Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning “is the most exceptional movie of 2012 in part because it has no right to be as good as it is,” writes Paris Review‘s Nick Antosca. “I begrudge nothing to films like Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained (which I loved and saw three times) when I say that, given their extraordinary pedigrees and healthy budgets, they had at least a fair shot at being excellent.

“On the other hand, all [director] John Hyams had to do was get Jean Claude van Damme and Dolph Lundgren in the same place at the same time and string together a few coherent fight scenes, and he would have exceeded expectations. Yet somehow he made a strange, haunting, sometimes even beautiful odyssey that lingered with me more than any American movie in recent memory.

“Despite a few surprised critical notices (like this and this), it was too disreputable to be talked about during awards season, but that’s okay. Anything this unusual deserves its own conversation.”

Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning, which opened on 11.30.12, has a 50% Rotten Tomatoes rating.

A summary by N.Y. Post critic Kyle Smith: “An intensity of purpose and a patient, suspenseful directing style make the B-movie Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning superior to most of the big-budget action films I’ve seen lately.”