As anyone who has ever paid even so much as a dollar to sit down and watch an action movie knows, it’s always nice to have said moving picture grab you by one portion of your anatomy or another and not let go until it’s all done and over with. Sometimes, filmmakers take that extra cautious step of waiting a tad bit longer to start the adrenaline injection — giving you just enough time to get your drinks and snacks well situated for the ride ahead. Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning goes several steps further than that — bestowing upon us a film so bold and innovative, that it never actually succeeds in being even so much as remotely interesting.
And paying even as much as a dollar to see this would be the unwisest buck spent in your whole life.
I vaguely recall being delighted at the original Universal Soldier from 1992, which — in turn — spawned two Cable TV movies as well as two other (theatrical and/or video, or whatever they were) flicks before this bore-fest. And in many ways, not having seen any of the four official and unofficial offspring movies that came to pass within the last twenty years has made my plight somewhat similar to the protagonist of this feature: wherein some guy (played by some guy) is beat to a bloody pulp at the beginning of the story in what has to be one of the longest, dullest home invasions ever and then tries to piece everything that happened before that together from the darkest recesses of his undoubtedly empty noggin.
As I watched Universal Solider: Day of Reckoning, I also struggled to recall things — most notably, what it was I liked about the first movie two decades ago, and whether or not there actually was a story to be found in this installment. Scott Adkins (as some guy) is the star here, with series alumni Dolph Lundgren, Andrei Arlovski, and Jean-Claude Van Damme returning in relatively small and forgettable roles (as well as a few others, though even the two big name stars don’t bring anything to the movie, so I fail to see why any other guys would).
Director/co-writer John Hyams (who helmed the last franchise entry I didn’t see) ups the Muffle Meter by adding a monotonous repetitive soundtrack and actors who can’t act to the virtually non-existent plot. He sweetens the pot with some shoddy editing (a surprisingly CGI-less car chase constantly changes or loops locales) and some truly dumb moments overall (observe, please, as the good guys exit a motel room and close the door behind them, to whit their pursuer starts chopping the door down). And those were just the parts I managed to keep my eyes open for. Oh, and get this kids: the movie was filmed in 3D but is only being released to Blu-ray (thus far) in 2D. How’s that for a boost of confidence?
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment brings us this god-awful feature in a stellar 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer that really pushes all that Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning doesn’t have to sell. Colors and black levels are well-balanced, detail is very fine, and contrast is near perfect. Likewise, the disc’s DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix really delivers the goods — from dialogue to effects and the droning soundtrack, too. English (SDH) and Spanish subtitles accompany the feature, and the special features for this turkey include an audio commentary with Hyams and Dolph (wherein the attempt to unravel the very insipid mystery they themselves created) and a three-part feature-length making-of documentary. A round of trailers for other Sony titles are also on-hand here — though I can’t say either of them look any more promising than Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning.
Yeah, it’s 113 minutes of crap, kids. But, of course, we should look at the bright side here: at least this movie doesn’t feature Bill Goldberg. I still wouldn’t pay so much as a dollar to see it, though.