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Consequently, Day of Reckoning boasts a jarring ferocity and in a variety of sequences that—like a musical—are defined by their diverse tone and construction. These signature scenes are also marked by a welcome spatial and geographic lucidity that Hyams says is born from two simple directorial decisions: using medium lenses to shoot his mayhem, which creates more intimate proximity to the action, and adhering to basic principles about screen direction (i.e., the camera moves logically from left to right and vice versa, rather than in Michael Bay–haphazard fashion).

There would be no Day of Reckoning, however, without the intimidating menace of Van Damme (whose "reptilian intensity" Hyams compares to that of Klaus Kinski) or the scary-funny charisma of Lundgren as Deveraux's evangelical right-hand man—who, as always, suffers a gruesome final fate. That recurring gag "has certainly become a great punchline," Hyams says with a laugh, though he admits that, after a while, Day of Reckoning itself plays like the grimmest of comedies. "We were going for a very serious, very grave tone, which at a certain point to me becomes completely hilarious—when you're in the last act of this movie, and our hero is literally covered head to toe in blood like Carrie. By the time you get to the fight with Dolph, it's like the theater of the absurd."

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