In Another Universe
John (Scott Adkins) wakes up on the operating table having had a vision of three men in his home including Luc Deveraux (Jean-Claude Van Damme) who not only beat him senseless but then murdered his wife and daughter in front of him. Told he has been comatose for 9 months he sets about tracking down Deveraux and getting vengeance except a Unisol by the name of Magnus (Andrei Arlovski) is hunting him down. Meanwhile Luc and fellow Unisol Andrew (Dolph Lundgren) are building a new order of Unisols with no Government interference with Luc taking a special interest in sleeper units. But as John hunts Luc down he begins to learn things about himself.
It would be fair to say the "Universal Soldier" franchise is a bit of a mess as not only with dead mean turned into Unisols it can write its own rules but also with the original followed by two made for TV movies and then the return of Van Damme for a proper version it is hard to really judge what is what other than Van Damme plays a soldier who died and who was brought back to life as an ultimate soldier as does Lundgren.
What does that mean when it comes to "Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning"? Well if you know that basic fact then you can watch it without having to have watched the previous movies other than maybe the first one. Whether you would want to watch "Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning" is another matter as like the franchise it is a bit messy. But it also has some interesting elements; the opening scene featuring the attack on John is worked in such a way that you immediately question whether it is his own nightmare on an implanted memory designed to make him do something. Add to this a touch of horror where in a scene shortly after John has a vision of his dead daughter holding her teddy which is soaked in blood.
In fact "Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning" is rather curious because in truth I didn't care too much for the storyline but the final product looks a lot better than you expect and John Hyams has created a stylish looking movie. In fact at times the level of visual style especially when it comes to various killings is shocking as we see tops of heads removed from a point blank machine gun blast. But the thing is that all of this is almost too sophisticated, too artistic looking for the movie and who is in it despite Hyams showing a slightly different side to Van Damme and Lundgren.
What this all boils down to is that "Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning" has an absolutely fantastic look and style, but it is a look and style which is too good for the "Universal Soldier" franchise. Ironically it means that those who watch because of their like of Van Damme movies might be disappointed because it isn't totally cheesy and comical. In truth it leaves me conflicted because it isn't the "Universal Soldier" movie I anticipated but it is impossible not to be impressed by Hyams style.