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Critic Reviews for Soldier
This appealing formulaic action adventure (1998) displays a lot of conviction in its not-too-flashy action scenes and a little levity in the gradual socialization of Russell's character.
The action is handled fairly well, but it's routine, and there's no satisfaction in seeing Todd waste men who are no more bloodthirsty than he is.
I doubt that Kurt Russell has ever had less dialogue to work with than he has in this film.
Has there ever been a more insipid sci-fi action film than Soldier? Probably, although it's hard to imagine.
Soldier is so mediocre, it might have been more mindless fun if it had been even worse.
Audience Reviews for Soldier
Entertaining Sci Fi actioner starring Kurt Russell, this is an underrated film that is entertaining for what it is, but also shows that it could have been much better as well. Directed by Paul W.S Anderson who has had a sketchy career, Soldier is one of those films that might entertain viewers that are looking for a mindless time waster to watch when they have nothing else to watch. Anderson for me, a so-so director, I don't hate his work, but he's one of those directors that create popcorn action flicks, and for that, he's very capable of doing so, but one thing that his films lack is substance. I don't mind his films, and here he makes an entertaining picture with a decent cast of actors. Soldier is mindless fun if you're in the mood for this sort of film, but it's never anything great either. I enjoyed the film, but I also felt it could have been better as well. Some ideas here fall flat, and it's a shame because the ideas here are quite good, but they never really take off, and in turn the film suffers from being a truly memorable action film. Paul W.S Anderson is a director that goes for thrills and action and not substance. Soldier is fun for what it is, but if you want a bit more, you'll sadly be disappointed. Soldier could have been a great film, but as it is, it's an action film that is mindless popcorn entertainment, and if you enjoy these types of films, you might like this one. However, at the same time, you can only wonder how good the film would have been if the script would have been better thought out.
Back before Kurt was a bit too old he starred in the odd kick ass flick like this...oh yes this is indeed kick ass. A mindless soulless drone-like soldier who kills without question and its set in the future! how can that not be kick ass...*ahem*.
So in the near future humans breed soldiers by taking them at birth and basically transforming them into hardened killers that obey without question with brutal military schooling, they only know the military way. Then along comes a smarmy greasy Colonel with a bunch of even better genetically engineered soldiers who were created from hand picked DNA to give maximum results in every human sense. Russell and his men are replaced and brushed aside.
At its core this film is basically a revenge action thriller, but it does try for a warmer touch throughout. Russell's character 'Todd' is a merciless killer but after he is abandoned and left for dead on a garbage planet by his superiors he must learn to survive on his own. That is until he finds a human colony of scavengers who crashed on the planet years before. He is taken in and this is where the softer side comes in as the scavengers try to break his robotic military programming and make him more human again.
This whole element isn't too bad and shows a good attempt at character building. We do get to see Todd slowly coming around as he is immersed in a more family orientated society. There are the obligatory ups and downs along the way and Todd has reoccurring nightmares which does feel rather cliched but I guess its what you'd expect. It is good to see Todd becoming close with a young couples little boy, we never really get too much emotion from Todd, he barely says much for the entire film accept for yes Sir, no Sir and nods. I did find myself enjoying the simple story arch for Todd and the young family that take care of him, its basic sure but it works.
Of course all that is filler simply for the big revenge action showdown at the end where Todd gets his chance to kill all the enhanced soldiers and their Colonel. Todd grows attached to the scavengers in his own way only so you feel more emotion when he must protect them in a whopping sci-fi shoot out. That shoot out being the main focus of the film and it doesn't disappoint if you ask me, its like 'Commando' on another planet with Russell taking down faceless futuristic soldiers with big guns, big knives and a few neck snaps.
The one thing I find odd is why the Colonel and his soldiers do this 'security sweep' on this garbage planet. The planet seems to be known as a massive dumping ground for scrap with no known life on it, intelligent life anyway. So why on earth would they need to do a security sweep of it?? especially with all those huge armoured vehicles!. Well because the director needed a way to get the bad guys on the planet surface so Todd could kill them all that's why. Its just a shame that plot direction is so stupid.
The film certainly looks slick considering it was made in 98. The planet looks pretty cool harsh and desolate, nice models, nice matte work, sets are decent and futuristic weapons/equipment look solid and authentic. I did get a feeling the film needed or wanted to be grander though, personally I wanted to see more of the planet, the military, it all felt a bit compressed and revolved around one area the entire time (the scavenger camp got a wee bit boring).
I like the small Easter eggs though. The film was suppose to be set within the same universe as 'Blade Runner' (a sequel on the side) and there is a nod to that with the 'Battle at Tannhauser Gate' on Todd's service record. Plus Todd appears to have been decorated with the 'Plissken Patch'.
I liked Russell's performance here, he comes across surprisingly well as a terminator-esque killbot and the lack of dialog also works surprisingly well. Visually the film is pleasing to the eye for any sci-fi buffs, the action is well directed and it is very satisfying to see Todd get his own back on Isaac's shitty Colonel character and his lackeys. The final battle between Russell and his uber opponent Jason Scott Lee is cliched much like the rest of the film and felt like a typical JCVD fight sequence really. All in all I think Lee's character could have been left out really as he seemed too much of a daft predictable comicbook type bad guy. Overall this is definitely a guilty pleasure action film, you know its dumb but its also a good gritty ride.
Braindead, granted, but also very entertaining and a lot better than you might expect. Like in most other productions by Paul W.S. Anderson, there's a complete lack of gravitas and logic to the plot. Basically, it's just a knock-off on Universal Soldier, with settings very resemblant to the Mad Max movies. Kurt Russell, here in better shape than ever, spends most of the time flexing his muscles or pacing around like a mindless drone. If his intension was to imitate Steven Seagal, he did a perfect job. Somehow I doubt that was the case though. I know the point of the story is that he's gradually evolving to become more human and compassionate, but save for a rather touching scene by the end, it offers nothing but scraps and bones when it comes to his character's development. What it does treat us to though, is action and lots of it! The cast is quite nice as well, with appealing actors like Connie Nielsen and two well-played villains in the form of Jason Isaacs and Gary Busey. So if you've previously dismissed it as trash, out of mere suspicion (trust me, I did at first too), you may want to reconsider, as this is far from abysmal sci-fi. Flat and derivative, that I won't deny, but if all you want is some good action, that allows the brain a moment of rest, then this is more than suitable for the mission at hand.
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