Soldier (1998) / Action-Sci Fi
MPAA Rated: R for strong violence and brief language
Running time: 99 min.
Cast: Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Connie Nielsen, Michael Chiklis, Jason Isaacs
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Screenplay: David Webb Peoples
Review published April 23, 1999
In the near future, the government has begun cultivating males from birth for one sole purpose: to be the best soldiers on Earth. The first group of soldiers served faithfully and executed their missions with impeccable skill for over 30 years, but now they are deemed obsolete when a new breed of soldiers that have been genetically engineered to be faster, stronger, and more accurate take their place as the elite super-soldiers.
Thought dead, one of the former soldiers named Todd (Russell, Stargate) gets deserted on a planet used for dumping wastes, and encounters a village of people who have crash landed there years before. This group takes the soldier in, but his training doesn't allow for any other feelings but fear and discipline, and the village fears for their lives. Things take a turn for the worse when the crew of super-soldiers arrive to train, and view the peaceful village as hostile enemies.
Written by the terrific David Webb Peoples (Blade Runner, Unforgiven), the script is at heart derivative, but developed with such skill that even the horrible virtuoso director, Paul Anderson (Event Horizon, Mortal Kombat) can't ruin it totally.
Kurt Russell does a fine job as the soldier-hero, with a lackluster but game supporting cast doing what they can with what few lines there are.
It's pretty easy to figure out where the film is going early on, so there's little in the way of surprises, but as an action vehicle, it delivers the goods with competence. The film recycles bits and pieces from much better films such as The Terminator, Dirty Harry, First Blood, The Postman, Mad Max, and countless others.
The film is neither fun nor funny, just icy cold action, but for a brainless action pic, it's better than most.
©1999 Vince Leo