Directed by: Mic Rodgers
Starring: Jean-Claude Van Damme, Bill Goldberg, Justin Lazard, Heidi Schanz, Xander Berkley, Brent Hinkley, and Michael Jai White
Luc Deveraux (Van Damme) returns, but the question is...why? This time around, Luc is just a regular Joe with a daughter, and he’s working with a Dr. Cotner (Berkeley) to refine and improve the Universal Soldier project. This is pretty surprising considering how he was treated by the higher-ups in the first movie. Nevertheless, At the base, everything is controlled by a 2001: A Space Odyssey-styled computer called SETH. When the intelligent SETH determines that the government is going to pull his plug, he transfers himself into the body of Michael Jai White and goes hunting for Luc and his daughter. As if that wasn’t enough to contend with, Luc also must fend off fellow Unisol (a contraction of the words “Universal Soldier” for those that didn’t see the first movie) Romeo (Goldberg). Naturally there’s yet another do-nothing female reporter, Erin (Schanz). How will Deveraux get out of this one?
Sadly, this sequel to the highly entertaining original is a disappointment. It’s a big drop from the first one - it’s lifeless and not a crowd-pleaser. While it did receive a theatrical release, surprisingly, it has a chintzy Direct-To-Video look to it. It never inspires confidence when 95% of your movie takes place in one building. Yes, “The Return”, as we call it (we refuse to dignify this crud with the Universal Soldier name) is one of THOSE.
Not so for Van Damme, who looks tired and disinterested, even as he spouts his one-liners. Does anyone really want to see Luc Deveraux as just some normal dude - with a kid even? Surely a sign of this movie’s status as a pale reflection of its forebear is, instead of the robotic monocle the Unisols wear over an eye in the first film, now they just wear Blu-Blocker Bono sunglasses.
And while this movie is very dumb, and disjointed, and features some downright embarrassing steals from Demolition Man (1993) and Terminator 2 (1991), Michael Jai White ALMOST saves the movie. He puts in by far the best performance and seems dedicated to his role as the sinister SETH. But even despite his valiant efforts, he can’t overcome the cruddiness within. But on the bright side, a character rides Goldberg down a flight of stairs like a sled. Yes, you read that correctly.
The bottom line is, this movie is an obvious cash-in and simply doesn’t need to exist. You might think, before watching this, “Yeah! It’s a Universal Soldier movie! Cool!” - it’s only natural to think that, but unfortunately, this movie doesn’t satisfy those expectations.
Comeuppance Review by: Brett and Ty