A Blog Devoted to Exploring and Explaining the World of Military Science Fiction.
20 April 2011
FWS Movie Review: Soldier (1998)
Soldier is a 1998 Military Sci-fi movie directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (Resident Evil), the script was written by BLADE RUNNERscriptwriter David Peoples, and starred Kurt Russel in the main role as Sgt. Todd-3465. Never heard of Soldier? Not surprising. It only made $15 million out of a budget of $75 million, and is difficult to find the DVD or even much information about it online. Soldier is often remembered in BLADE RUNNERcircles as the "side-sequel" to that landmark sci-fi movie, and was penned by David Peoples, who co-wrote BLADE RUNNERand the epic western Unforgiven. His idea was to show the off-world combat between the nations of Earth using their combat skinjobs, (which is what the next BLADE RUNNERmovie should be about) however, Soldier was rewritten so that it was no longer official tied to theBLADE RUNNERand only a few references still existed in the movie (look for the Spinner in the Arcadia 234 junk piles!). I first heard of Soldier when I was given The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies: From 1897 to the Present by C.J. Henderson for Xmas on year...there i discovered this film and Mr. Henderson gives the movie a three page review and talks about how great it was. I thought it may be worth watching since I was writing a BLADE RUNNER fan-fiction book at the time. It took me two weeks to find on DVD in the DFW metroplex...and I was fairly disappointed with the film once I actually watched it This blogpost was updated on 07/02/2014.
Soldier is the story of Todd-3465, a victim of the ADAM project, were the US military secretly bred soldiers from birth to be flesh-and-blood emotionless automaton, that speaks only when spoke to, and always obeys orders. The film steers clear of the ADAM project subjects being Replicants and/or super-soldiers (mainly because the filmarkers were not allowed to legally tie Soldier to BLADE RUNNER).
For Todd's 38 years of military service he is shipped around the various wars on Earth and through space. After decades of military service, the next-gen ADAM soldiers show up on Todd's military vessel, and the brass dumps off the last previous model Todd onto a unsettled world that is being uses as a interstellar garage dump. There Todd meets a band of illegal colonists, and is unable to socialize with them...however when the military shows back up to train the next-gen soldiers with a live-fire exercise using the illegal settlers. Todd steps up, defends the colonists from the next-gen ADAM soldiers...his experience over their breeding...and then movie ends with Todd and colonists high jacking the military ship and heading off to another colonial world.
Despite my disappoint, there are elements with this 1998 film that are good. The tale of easily replaceable technology is one that should everyone understand, especially since with the invasion of the iPhone, and it is timely. The audience generally feels for Todd and the rest of the 1st Generation ADAM soldiers when they are just tossed out after the new shiny super soldiers are deployed. Soldier does have some interesting weapon choices, especially the Rocky Mountain Arms Patriot 5.56mm Pistol-Carbines.
The there is planetary assault uniform of the ADAM 2.0 soldiers are very cool and remind of the Sardaukar from the David Lynch DUNE movie. However, the best thing in Soldier is the acting of Kurt Russel. In the film, Sgt. Todd only as about 100 spoken words, 11 of them are "Yes Sir." This means that Mr. Russel, had to develop Todd through body language and actions, and lesser actor would have been unable to pull it off. The talents of Mr. Russel really shine though when Todd interacts with the colonists on Arcadia 234.
Flat out, the vast majority of Soldier is just plain bad, like B-Movie bad. Stupid bad, not cheesy bad. The majority of the cast is so completely wrong for this film that they become painfully to watch, especially coupled with the bad dialog and undeveloped scenes. The middle of the film, where Todd is struggling to find his place in the community of the settlers is not too bad, but when the next-gen soldiers show up, the action scenes are so heavy handed and overcooked that it destroys the mystery surrounding the ADAM soldiers. These choppy, overboiling action scenes and the actions of the 2.0 ADAM super soldiers are pure 1980's action flick cheesy...and it moldy cheese at that. hem down to 1980's action films. According to the film, Todd-3465 an experienced combat veteran elite soldier, but he often picks odd weaponry that destroys the central realism of the film and betrays his training. All of this makes the action often cartoony in nature. I was often floored how badly the movie fit together and how the actions hammed it up, but then falls flat on its collective ass.
The real disappointment with Soldier is the waste opportunity for military sci-fi movie genre in general. Here was a big budget major-studio backed military sci-fi movie with the actor who crafted Snake fucking Plissken, Kurt Russel, as the star. He would crack out of the best great performances in his career, but it was a waste. Hell, even the title is great, but no one, I mean no one, saw this piece of shit then or even now, and I fully blame Paul W.S. Anderson for that. This movie was a waste of money, talent, and opportunity. It could have been good...even without having direct connection to BLADE RUNNER, but the decisions by the director were the fatal error of this film. Everything was there, but it just wasn't used. Rumors online point to him rewriting the David People's script and putting his own spin on the visuals and the dialog of the film. Examining Mr. Anderson's IMDb profile, I realized that I've hated everyone of his films, from the bullshit Resident Evil flicks to the remake of Death Race, and he simply ruined Soldier.
Should You Watch Soldier?
Soldier should have been good, but the rumored rewrites by director Paul W.S. Anderson, coupled with bad casting choices and completely stupid action scenes, doomed this military sci-fi movie to the forgotten realms of bad movies and the dollar bin at your local Wal-Mart! It is sad, really, to have Kurt Russel, the man who forged Snake Plissken, one of the greatest characters in Sci-fi, to have worked so hard to make Todd-3465 believable, then take his wonderfully acting job, and waste inside of this poorly executed film. Pity.