More and more films premiere on Video on Demand — if they don’t simply bypass a theatrical release altogether. Because VOD reviews are often scarce and hard to find, Criticwire created VODetails, a recurring column to help you figure out whether a new VOD release is worth your hard-earned dollar. This time we’re looking at “Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning,” the latest installment in the long-running franchise about reanimated battlefield soldiers — not the quasireligious tale of a mercenary hired by Universal Pictures to track down Internet pirates.
Director: John Hyams
Cast: Scott Adkins, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren
Current Criticwire Average: A- (out of 2 critics)
Official Synopsis: “Jean-Claude Van Damme, Scott Adkins, Andrei ‘The Pit Bull’ Arlovski and Dolph Lundgren star in ‘Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning,’ which ups the ante in the ‘Universal Soldier’ series, giving you more hard-hitting, bloody, no-holds-barred fighting action. John (Adkins, ‘The Expendables 2’) wakes up from a coma after his wife and daughter were slaughtered in a brutal home invasion. Haunted by images of the attack, he vows to kill the man responsible, Luc Deveraux (Van Damme). While John tries to piece his reality back together, things get more complicated when he is pursued by a relentless UniSol (Arlovski). As John gets closer to Deveraux and the rouge army of genetically enhanced warriors led by back-from-the-dead leader Andrew Scott (Lundgren), John discovers more about himself and begins to call into question everything he believed to be true.”
“One of the best action movies of the year.”
“The director isn’t looking to make a by-the-numbers sequel, he’s got a vision, and bathes his movie in atmospheric dread so that every sequence feels like it wants to inflict pain on the audience.”
“Credit should go to Hyams for mixing up the tried-and-tested formula.”
“Hyams satisfies where it matters — in his slashing, limb-severing, body-pounding action.”
“The problems with ‘Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning’ only highlight the potential of this franchise under Hyams. If given the right tools, and not tempted by gimmicky visual schemes that ultimately limit his vision, there is more than a fleeting possibility that he will continue the series in superb fashion.”
“Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning” is now available on VOD. It opens in theaters on November 30th.