Monday, November 18, 2013

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning

Directed by John Hyams.
2012. Rated R, 114 minutes.
Scott Adkins
Mariah Bonner
Andrei Arlovski
Rus Blackwell
Audrey P. Scott
David Jensen
Roy Jones, Jr.

John (Adkins) is woken up in the middle of the night by his daughter who says there are monsters in the kitchen. Like a good father, he goes to investigate. When he gets there, he discovers she was right. Three men in ski masks are waiting for him and proceed to beat half to death with a crowbar. While he lies in a pool of his own blood, the men bring down his daughter and his wife and murders them right in front of him. Fast forward nine months to John waking up in the hospital. He’s told by the FBI that a man named Devereaux (Van Damme) is responsible. Our hero trying to find this man ensues. His quest is made a bit more difficult because Devereaux’s second-in-command, Scott (Lundgren), has sent the maniacal goon known as The Plumber (Arlovski) after John to kill him. If that weren't bad enough, all these bad guys are hopped up the Universal Soldier Serum which makes the stuff Captain America got seem like a B-12 shot.

Immediately, it becomes clear that our focus is on brutal and bloody violence. At this, it succeeds. The next knock-down-drag-out is never too far away. Everything in the vicinity gets smashed, blood splatters everywhere, and body parts are left among the debris. Don’t worry, they get regenerated. No, I’m not joking. Anyhoo, without overextending itself, it is enough to satisfy your average action junkie.

Between all the noisy parts, we get a story that’s simple at it’s core, a bit convoluted in execution, and holds together barely enough to get us through. A few things don’t quite make sense, but not enough to ruin the movie. However, if you’re looking for all of this feature Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren, you will be sorely disappointed. Neither guy has very much screen time. It is all about this young guy, Scott Adkins. He provides a solid enough protagonist. After all, it’s not like Van Damme and Lundgren were ever accused of being great actors. Okay, maybe once. Van Damme was excellent in JCVD, but that’s it so the point remains. Besides, they do get in on the action a little bit.

In case the title and the presence of two 80s action gods didn’t clue you in, this is another entry in the Universal Soldier canon. I have no idea how many this makes, nor do I really care. The very first one is the only one I have seen. I must confess that happened so long ago I don’t remember much about it. What I’m getting at is this: familiarity with the franchise is not a must to enjoy Day of Reckoning. It works well enough as a stand-alone. For those of you that are familiar, I have no idea how well this fits or doesn’t with the series motif. In any event, it’s perfectly acceptable as a mile-a-minute, turn your brain off action flick.

MY SCORE: 6/10

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