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Soldier isn't a great movie, and everyone that hated it has plenty of good
reasons. But I liked Soldier alot, partly because my expectations were so
low that what I saw surprised me.
First, the art direction is tight and well executed. As far as science fiction backdrops go, Soldier was doing things with more design then 90% the genre. The sets, costumes and props were all consistent and competently executed; I didn't love all of their future military style, but I was impressed with the effort. For me, this made the movie worth the time it took to watch.
Second, I'm a Kurt Russell fan. I grew up watching this guy in some of the most memorable movies of my youth ... The Barefoot Executive and his John Carpenter films. Soldier is essentially an action movie, and the role of Sergeant Todd is an essential action hero. It's not an award winning role, but Kurt musters up convincing emotion with VERY little dialog.
Third, the fight scenes and battles are well choreographed. This isn't iron monkey, or even the matrix, but once again, it far exceeds the average level of quality in the genre.
If you haven't seen it, and you like sci-fi action films, pick it up if you pass at your rental depot of choice. Just don't expect the next Bladerunner.
OK, so Soldier isn't deep and meaningful like Blade Runner or as big budget
as Terminator 2 but on the whole I found it quite enjoyable.
The fact that Kurt Russell stayed in character not speaking and being virtually emotionless made the moments when his humanity broke through all the more poignant. I found his portrayal of restricted emotional development more touching than Arnie's in the T films (and before I get comments yes I know that Arnie was a cyborg and Kurt was human but the premise put forward by both films was the same).
So to the film itself, a reasonable US/Brit cast are able to flesh out this little story. Not really sure if Gary Busey and his two deputies were baddies or goodies, so was unable to decide whether I liked them or not. The colony was a little more realistic neither a misguided bunch of peace loving/gullible/cowardly hicks who get wiped out from the get go nor a group of subversive aggressive terrorists paranoid about offworlders and each other.
Kurt Russell is good and unlike other comments I do not feel this will have a negative impact on his career (unlike maybe Escape from LA - sequels are such fickle creatures!). Sean Pertwee has really done his late father proud by continuing the families noble Sci-Fi lineage. And the rest of the cast helped flesh out this pathetic band of people making the most of a bad situation and not doing too badly.
If you see this on your TV schedule I would recommend giving it a chance. I don't think you will be disappointed.
In a future society, the military component does not have to recruit; rather, their candidates are chosen at birth, culled from nurseries and designated to spend their entire lives in the service of the government. They are given over to the war machine, body and soul, for no reason other than to protect and serve; they have no personal identity other than a name and rank, and no autonomy whatsoever. This is the fate of those whose destiny is predetermined for them in `Soldier,' directed by Paul Anderson and starring Kurt Russell. The scenario is hard and bleak as the movie begins by depicting the training of the soldiers during advancing periods of time, from preadolescence to adulthood. Russell is Sergeant Todd, the best of the best, and we glimpse his career as he discharges his duties in an exemplary manner in campaign after campaign; he is what he was born to be, a soldier. But even the best cannot go on forever, and the day arrives when Todd and his peers are no longer the elite. A new generation of soldiers has been created, products of advanced genetics and technology, and Todd's generation is suddenly obsolete. What follows is the story of a man who must fight for his life, while struggling to discover his own sense of humanity and individuality, traits new to a soldier who has known only two things his entire life: Fear and discipline. Russell gives a commanding performance as Todd, the soldier who above all else must obey orders without question while suppressing all emotion and individual thoughts. He has few lines in this movie, but Russell speaks volumes with his eyes. This role demonstrates that he is, in fact, one of the under-appreciated actors of our times; that he can disappear so entirely into the character of Todd is a credit to his ability, and with this part he has created someone quite different from any he's done before. And he's given Todd a depth and credibility that someone of lesser talent could easily have rendered as nothing more than a pretentious and superficial stereotype. Notable performances are also turned in here by Connie Nielsen (Sandra) and Jason Isaacs (Colonel Mekum). Rounding out the supporting cast are Jason Scott Lee, memorable as Caine 607, one of the new generation of soldiers; Sean Pertwee (Mace); Gary Busey (Captain Church); Michael Chiklis (Jimmy Pig); and Mark Bringleson (Rubrick). Anderson has delivered an action film with a message, a cautionary tale that transcends the genre of science-fiction. `Soldier' reminds us of the importance of keeping the humanity of our lives intact. It's an entertaining way of making us consider the alternatives, like a bleak future and a world in which good movies just wouldn't make a whole lot of difference. Much like `1984,' and `Mad Max,' this movie, which is ultimately uplifting, is going to make you take pause and think about the kind of Universe in which we all must live together and share. I rate this one 7/10.
I don't remember this film getting a cinema release over here. I only saw
when it came onto cable. The film deals with the dehumanisation of children
into killing machines. Specifically one person, the way he gets replaced
dumped (literally) into an off-world community where he finds himself
to cope with coming to terms with who he really is and what he
Seems to me that a lot of people expected this to be Rambo in space, and would have been happy if it was.
I'm certainly happy it was'nt - Kurt does a fine job of portraying an emotional cripple. The scene where he's sitting outside the compound shows this, albeit the decision for two slow-mo replays detracts from the moment.
This is not a classic SF movie in the way that Bladerunner, Alien, Silent running, Logan's run or THX1138 were, however it is unfortunately the nearest I've seen to it in a long time.
He changes in the movie to a believable degree, he does'nt crack Arnie one liners, he does'nt become Snake Plissken and there is no definative happy ending.
That's why this film did'nt do well. It did'nt follow formula, and among a 18-25 year old target American audience, that's unforgivable as it was was'nt what they expected to see.
Fear and discipline.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
David Webb Peoples meets Paul Anderson...if it already sounds weird to
you, then you are right, because it is.
Peoples is known for his scripts with moral implications of what is right and wrong, the value of life, etc... He covered these issues in Bladerunner, Unforgiven, and pretty much in all of his screenplays there is something along those lines.
Paul Anderson's first successful movie was a violent thriller. Not surprisingly so have all of his other movies! And here is a violent thriller with moral implications!
Peoples' script is quite apparent in the first half of the movie. Soldiers trained from birth, taught to kill, and never had a normal life. They are replaced by better, genetically engineered soldiers and Todd, one of the original soldiers, is left on a planet and left for dead. There he must cope with a group of refugees, some want him to stay others hate him and there is an interesting drama here. BUT THEN...
...The bullets start to fly as the new soldiers move onto the planet for a military exercise and try to kill all the people. Big, violent, loud action ensues and Peoples' script turns into an Anderson action-fest. It is hard to believe that the script was originally written that way, but the end product is better then I expected. Entertaining, somewhat, though admittedly not very, thought-provoking, and exciting once the action starts. 7/10
Rated R: a lot of violence
Kurt Russell is strong and (mostly) silent in this futuristic action-thriller from Paul Anderson (Event Horizon, Resident Evil.) Set on a garbage-dump planet, Soldier plays like a cross between Rambo and Shane, with Russell barely speaking as the title character, an "obsolete" genetic soldier left for dead. The supporting cast of colonists, including Connie Nielsen, Sean Pertwee and a surprisingly hirsute Michael Chiklis, is able. They spend most of the movie being scared of Russell, and the rest of it running for their lives. Russell's performance here is one of the best he's ever given. With almost no words to say, he conveys emotion, feeling and meaning with looks and glances. It is almost a mime performance. When the action sequences kick into gear, he kicks ass--and does so in a strong, silent, matter-of fact way. There are flaws. Jason Scott Lee is brutish as a "superior" genetic soldier. Jason Isaacs does a great impression of Frank Burns from M*A*S*H as a weaselly commanding officer, and Gary Busey busts a gut (and nearly busts his girdle) as Todd's mentor. This is an underrated, and excellent sci-fi flick, and recommended for anyone who wants a second visit to the universe of Blade Runner--David Webb Peoples wrote both screenplays.
Ok, basically this is a popcorn sci-fi movie, but from the outset its obvious that it has been directed with a great deal of intelligence. You can count about 10 clichés that the film is building up to, but it only delivers on about three of them, and a couple of them have a twist to them that lets you know once again that the director hasn't assumed that you are an idiot. Kurt Russell's acting is truely superb and brings a depth from the character that is suprising and rewarding. Recommended if you've just seen something really stupid, and want to rebuild your faith!
When I rented this movie to watch it, I knew that it was not going to be a mindbender movie. Instead I thought of it as a disbelief of reality where someone is going to get a serious beating. And you know what it worked. Kurt Russel did what I though was a remarkable role in showing the emotionless soldier that he was. I recommend this movie if your out with the boys and want to watch a good action film.
In the movie several references are made in subtly to Blade runner, but one of the most obvious is the fact the Cain 607 and his unit are all genetic constructs, breed to be expendable warriors. But as favorite quote of mine from the movie is, " you should have made them smart as well as fast". Kurt Russell did a incredible job, his facial expressions or lack of in the movies gave more in the way of relating the story then the rest of the cast combined. Even when he falls in love with Sandra but does not know how to deal with these emotions, and his tears after being expelled from the group, or his shuddering when he is given a hug, and his attachment to the mute young boy who in many ways reminded Todd of himself, and what he could have been if not for his selection to be a soldier.
The first two sequences of this movie set up the two conflicts:
the -thematic- conflict between the soldier Todd and his suppressed
humanity, and the -physical- conflict between Todd and his bio-engineered
replacement. Both sequences are quite gripping in different ways.
Peoples' screenplay falters somewhat by resolving the first of these arcs half-way through the movie, which means the second half is little more than a straightforward action romp.
Nonetheless, kudos to the makers for creating an genre action piece with heart and even a bit of soul and especially to Kurt Russell who conveys much with very little.
Not a great film, but one worth seeing.
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