Dolph Lungren and Jean-Claude Van Damme are back for more bloody combat in this new chapter based on the sci-fi action blockbuster Universal Soldier. In the film, a desperate band of war survivors must try to restore their shattered civilization.
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Universal Soldier: Day of ReckoningDirected byJohn Hyams
Again elevating what could've been a dull DTV sequel, Hyams's second instalment of the UniSol franchise drops the early Carpenter fetish of the first in favour of a more subjective, hyper-real stylisation reminiscent of filmmakers like Refn & Noé. Infused with bold neon lighting, stroboscopic sequences & a pulsating soundtrack, the film combines violent action with a bleak, elliptical story of manipulation & revenge.
Repeat viewings only serve to enhance this film's sobering power; in fact, they may be something of a necessity in order to parse out the labyrinthian plot. Against expectations, director John Hyams refashions the "Universal Soldier" series into a study of toxic masculinity. Drawing influence from body horror and filmmakers like David Lynch, the movie is not so much an exercise in brutality as an examination of it.
Appropriately, Hyams explores violence the way more conventional filmmakers explore drugs. “Reckoning” is hallucinatory; fuzzy and disorienting – it portrays brutality not only as Adkins' tool to relinquish responsibility, but as the audience's addiction. The apathetic fashion in which a family is slaughtered to give Adkins fuel mirrors our own carefree position as the viewer.
When the military's away, the clones will play. Light blazes out from emission sources but otherwise the world looks as spartan as the warriors who have been unleashed in it, and the violence within it is as gruesome and repulsive as it is perfectly choreographed. Maybe this is why action no longer uses long takes: a tracking shot is a moral act, as they say, and DoR turns even its most impressive carnage into dread.
one of the most interesting and physical films i have seen in years. the use of the films experimental elements is masterful. he reaches out and touches his audience in ways that reflect the emotional reality of his characters.
the narrative is a compelling follow up from his first Universal. He is free from the first films constructs to tell the story he needs to, a very brave move. could be a stunning trilogy.