STARRING: Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Jason Isaacs, Connie
Neilsen, Gary Busey, Sean Pertwee, Danny Turner
1998, 100 Minutes, Directed by: Paul Anderson
If youve heard that Soldier
is written by David Webb Peoples who also wrote the excellent Blade
Runner and Twelve Monkeys then forget all about it! Also
forget whatever Peoples may have said in interviews about the film being
a "side-quel" of sorts to Blade Runner, i.e., set in
the same universe as that 1982 modern classic. The two films cannot be
compared at all the one being an intelligent and highly original
film and the other being a piece of extremely derivative filmmaking.
that means is if youre a rabid Blade Runner fan then you
might briefly catch some "insider" references to that movie
a so-called "spinner" vehicle briefly glimpsed in the
corner of ones eye and a character mentioning the "battle of
Tannhauser Gates" (referred to by the Rutger Hauer character in his
eloquent death scene).
If you instead think of Soldier
as being directed by Paul Andersen who did last years chiller set
in outer space, Event Horizon which consisted of bits stolen from other
(better) movies, then you might stand a better chance at not being disappointed
by this movie. Like Event Horizon, Soldier is hacked together
with bits stolen from other movies, the most notably being those 1980s-style
Rambo movies. Yup, thats right: Soldier never goes
beyond the macho action man killing off all the baddies one by one and
then finally facing off against one single opponent in a drawn-out hand-to-hand
fight scene. Pretty disappointing stuff coming from the same pen as the
man who gave us two veritable modern sci-fi classics . . .
Odds are that Soldier was probably more interesting on paper than
how it eventually turned out to be on celluloid. This suspicion is confirmed
at the start of the movie where we allowed to witness key scenes from
the training the main character played by Kurt Russell (who speaks even
less than he did in Escape from L.A.) underwent
To recap: Russell is trained from birth to be the ultimate
soldier cold, emotionless, ruthless, to follow orders without questioning,
etc. He is more of a machine as much as the replicants (androids) hunted
by Deckard back on earth in Blade Runner. However, like all machines
he becomes redundant when even better genetically engineered soldiers
are introduced and like a piece of machinery he is left for dead and discarded
like an old piece of machinery on a planet used for dumping trash.
Until about this point Soldier
is vaguely interesting, but things take a sharp downward turn from there
on: on the planet he is taken in by a group of refugees who becomes the
target of the new genetically engineered troops who are out on a practice
run. Russell, well, kills them all just as he vowed to do in the
trailers and the film becomes a pure Rambo action film.
Taken as an example of this particular brand of action movie, Soldier
makes for passable entertainment. The special effects and production designs
are good. Russell is also clever enough to sustain his military man persona
throughout the movie he "Sirs" everybody, for example.
Soldier throws some dangling leads at its start at what it could
have been. Recently Ive seen quite a few movies dealing with similar
themes of war, emotionally dysfunctional soldiers and a newer breed of
killer taking over from the old, namely Saving Private Ryan, Savior
and The Wild Bunch. All of these movies are much better
and I would recommend any one of them over Soldier. Even taken
as a loud no-brainer action movie youll find that Soldier
ends rather abruptly and unsatisfyingly . . .