Sunday, January 20, 2013

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012)

Seen: At the Brattle Theatre in Cambridge.

Ok. A douchey British guy known only as John (Scott Adkins) watches his family get super murdered and is thrown into a coma. When he wakes up he's got amnesia and doesn't remember much about who he is, except for the traumatic events just before was knocked out. An FBI investigator is trying to find his attacker, a crazed killer named Luc Deveraux (Van Damme), and hopes John can help track him down. But John has other worries as he tries to reclaim his memories, especially since some huge dude (Andrei Arlovski) keeps trying to kill him for no apparent reason. Eventually it all comes together, sort of, mainly involving Deveraux's underground super-soldier army that he's been brainwashing for a while with the aid of fellow UniSol Andrew Scott (Dolph Lundgren).

This movie had been on my radar for a while, but I guess I still wasn't really sure what to expect. I had heard it tantalizingly compared to David Lynch and David Cronenberg, and am forever psyched to see Dolph Lundgren and Jean-Claude Van Damme do their thing. I'd seen the first and fourth Universal Soldier movies, missed the fifth, and hoped for more of the same, but more intense I guess. But. Whew. I don't know what's going on here, really. This is a pretty weird movie. It's dark as fuck, with several scenes more reminiscent of an experimental horror (hence the Lynch/Cronenberg comparisons, I assume) and the story is as rambling as it is intriguing. Because I spent most of the movie confused, I was engaged as I tried to figure out what was happening. Honestly, there are a couple of Lost-level bombs going on here. And Apocalypse Now-esque developments.

The fight scenes are awesome and truly gory, with Scott Adkins taking one hell of a beating for two hours. My main issue is that Van Damme and Lundgren were barely in this movie, and I. Want. Them. Adkins looks exactly like Ben Affleck, which is distracting, and his character sucks. Like, super sucks. And yet he's on screen 75% of the time, so it was difficult to really care about the film overall. I was interested in the story, but not the protagonist, so that makes it only partially worth it, to be honest. Plus at times it was downright hard to watch, I felt a little queasy afterwards, possibly from all the intense strobe light visions.

Day of Reckoning is definitely daring, and I applaud Hyams and crew for taking the UniSol series in such a strange and unexpected direction. It just didn't quite work for me, and definitely didn't have enough of Van Damme and Lundgren doing their thing!

3.5/5

Pair This Movie With: Um I guess the aforementioned other Universal Soldier movies are ok. Alternatively there are definitely Apocalypse Now connections.

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