Soldier (1998) starring Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Jason Isaacs, Connie Nielsen, Sean Pertwee, Gary Busey directed by Paul W.S. Anderson Movie Review

Soldier (1998)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Kurt Russell as Todd 3465 in Soldier

Sci-Fi Waste Land

If I had watched "Soldier" when I was a young twenty something I would probably have enjoyed it with being a futuristic action movie. If I'd watched it at the start of my thirties I would have probably been seriously under whelmed by the fact that behind all the well created visuals and action there is absolutely zero depth. Now as I enter my fortieth year I watched "Soldier" and can accept for what it is, a futuristic action movie made for the mass cinema going public who want a star name and plenty of action and nothing more. Basically "Solider" is no different to many a futuristic actioner and certainly does absolutely zero to try and be different, but if all you want is some mindless action with a toned up Kurt Russell as the lead well it kind of entertains.

In the future, a group of children are selected at birth to go through 17 years of training turning them into a new type of soldier, a ruthless killing machine. Having gone through the training and then seen 23 years of active service Todd 3465 (Kurt Russell - Executive Decision) is one of the best of these new breed of soldiers. But when Colonel Mekum (Jason Isaacs - Armageddon) introduces a new genetically improved breed of soldier, Todd is killed during a training exercise and his body dumped on the waste land of a nearby planet. Except Todd is by no means dead and when he comes to finds himself being looked after by a colony of survivors who live a peaceful life and teach him a different side to being human. When Mekum decides to send his elite fighting force onto the waste land for a training op Todd gets a chance to face these superior killing machines and this time he is defending his home and his friends.

Connie Nielsen as Sandra in Soldier

In a way the best part of "Soldier" is the set up as we watch children being put through a 17 year training programme where they are turned into emotionless, ruthless killing machines where the weak are weeded out in an abrupt manner. These 17 years of training basically gives us Todd 3465 the best of these killing machines who over the next 23 years survives one war after another till the day comes and these existing fighting machines are ousted by a new genetically superior force. All of which is entertaining and a fight up a series of chains between Todd 3465 and Caine 607, a new super soldier grabs your attention. But then it all goes down hill when Todd who they presume has been killed by Caine is dumped with the waste on a planet called Arcadia, a huge waste land which is colonised by survivors from a spaceship crash.

Now I say it goes down hill because what we're supposed to see is Todd on this waste land discovering that there is more to life than being a killing machine. We're supposed to see him grow as a person to have feelings and show compassion and to some extent he does but the script makes Todd a man of silence, barely speaking and so the emotional depth of this, of him discovering his inner humanity is barely tangible. And to be honest whilst this takes up a fair chunk of the movie you know that come the end Todd will end up coming face to face with not only this army of genetically superior soldiers but also Caine 607 again, well they are sent to Arcadia on a training mission. Yes you can guess the outcome, one man against an army in a world where reality is non existent.

What is a shame is that within this run of the mill futuristic actioner "Soldier" tries to be clever with various movie references if you can spot them. Some of the weapons which Todd trained on are from other movies such as "Aliens" and on the waste land of Arcadia there are the broken down vehicles with names clearly visible which link them to other movies. But that is as far as the cleverness goes as whilst incorporating these references it never uses them and so whilst for a split second "Soldier" gains some kudos for being clever it quickly loses it.

Now here's a fact, Kurt Russell speaks just 104 words in the entire movie and whilst you could say this is right seeing he is supposed to be an emotionless killing machine it does cause problems. Now I actually like the way Russell plays Todd he plays him so emotionless it's almost to the point we are talking Terminator style emotionless and determination but it means that when we do get those little scenes where Todd is meant to be having feelings we don't get it and it's because there is no dialogue to bring that emotion across; all we get is Todd staring with nothing coming across. At least when it comes to the action side of things Russell looks good, he's toned and looks like a man whose body has gone through the mill, scarred from battle. And talking of bodies it has to be said the Jason Scott Lee as Caine 607 looks incredibly pumped up which does make him come across as being superior as the new and improved soldier.

Aside from the toned presence of Kurt Russell and Jason Scott Lee sadly there is not mush else to say, both Sean Pertwee and Connie Nielsen fail to deliver the emotional side of their characters, the feeling side of being human thanks to the poor script. And then there is Jason Isaacs whose little dictator style character, the sort who you could describe as bordering on having small person complex as he is towered over by his soldiers over plays it so he borders on being comical.

What this all boils down to is that "Soldier" is a run of the mill futuristic action movie. From a visual perspective it is entertaining with great artwork and big action scenes but there is little depth to any of it with a poor script not only causing it to be dull but also making it a disappointment especially as littered through out are references to other sci-fi movies which are never utilised. But it is what it is and that is an action movie made for the mass public who don't need depth to enjoy Kurt Russell looking buff as a futuristic soldier.