(Destructa) from SAN JOSE, CA
Reviewed on 4/19/2010...
Van Damme fans have been getting a vindication of sorts; he's done some compelling acting in Replicant, In Hell, JCVD, and now Regeneration. This film thankfully sweeps all the other sequels under the rug, using only the original as a basis. You really should watch the original first, since no flashbacks are shown.
I applaud the acting, the haunting music, the cinematography that stalks through the incredible Chernobyl environment (shot in an actual abandoned city). The plot isn't over-complicated, but the filmmakers also don't assume the audience is stupid and needs everything spelled out in neon, so they don't brake often for exposition. The only returning roles are Luc and Sgt Scott, and the dark translation of their characters from the first film to this one is incredible. The 2 Unisol scientists are a little hammy. Mike Pyle (in his first role) steals a few scenes, and Arlovski is completely dialed into his role as the Next Generation Unisol (NGU).
While the original is a popcorn action flick with a scifi slant and a lot of humor, this film is unrelentingly grim, with a conscious effort not to seem scifi or futuristic, but to ground the premise in our own reality. There's a car chase and some explosions, but the majority of the action is close combat--hence the casting of so many martial artists. The film tends to beat you up a little, compared to Roland Emmerich's frequent winks, nudges and one-liners. I do miss the comedy, but it would have been inappropriate here and sure didn't help any of the other sequels.
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