Universal Soldier Luc Deveraux is back. Jean-Claude Van Damme gallantly attempts to resurrect interest in his tepid career with this action-riddled roller-coaster ride. Set in the not-too-distant future, Deveraux has been employed by the government to oversee the new UniSol project. What is UniSol? It’s a military plan to turn dead soldiers into invincible fighting machines (see the first Univeral Soldier for more details). It’s also the scheme that went horribly wrong when the soldiers turned psycho, killing the scientists who created them. Not deterred by this early setback, the government replicates the project. This time they work out that they can control the soldiers through a supercomputer called SETH (kind of like HAL in 2001, but smarter). But, as we all know, machines frequently break down. Pretty soon the computer comes to the conclusion that it’s superior to humans and therefore it must destroy them. Uh oh.
Van Damme to the rescue. The muscles from Brussels heroically leap into action confronting the dangerous soldiers led by Bill (WCW) Goldberg and Michael Jai White (last seen in Spawn). The action is impressive and the stunts are engrossing. Goldberg is charismatic as the cartoonish villain who sneers and snouts while muttering macho things like, “I’m gonna kill that guy.” Van Damme looks more at home in a production that he is not directing, and for once he lets his fists do the talking. Ironically, the movie is missing the gloss and big-budget pathos of its predecessor (created by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich), making the original decidedly better. — Jeremy Storey