John Hyams’s last two films—Universal Soldier: Regeneration (2009) and Dragon Eyes (2012)—were distinguished by their keen sense of action-setpiece construction and their potent use of motion and space. Regeneration, the weightier and more accomplished of the two, even achieved a sort of tragic grandeur; its images of empty-eyed soldiers fighting ceaselessly in irradiated urban ruins play like action-movie poetry.
Hyams’ new film, however, is an ambitious radical departure—a ballsy, heady genre mutant that confirms that Hyams is something more than just a smart and talented action traditionalist. Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning—slippery, chilly, queasy—grafts an art-horror movie on to the rootstock of a violent action flick. It bears only a passing resemblance to Regeneration, and has even less in common with the original Universal Soldier (1992); in fact, the two films it brings to mind are Lost Highway and Videodrome.
Held together by an atmosphere of sustained dread, »
- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky
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