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Soldier (1998)

tomatometer

10

Average Rating: 3.6/10
Reviews Counted: 51
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 46

A boring genre film and a waste of a good set.

13

Average Rating: 3.6/10
Critic Reviews: 15
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 13

A boring genre film and a waste of a good set.

audience

43

liked it
Average Rating: 2.8/5
User Ratings: 43,969

My Rating

Movie Info

Todd is a veteran of numerous galactic conflicts and, having lived by the American Force's Rules for Life since childhood, is one of the best. Scarred, toughened and numbed by a lifetime of fighting, he stands as the embodiment of Darwin's principle of survival of the fittest. But Todd's glory days are over. Scientific advancement has fostered a new breed of warriors.

Mar 2, 1999

Warner Bros. Pictures

Watch It Now

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All Critics (55) | Top Critics (16) | Fresh (5) | Rotten (46) | DVD (10)

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.

March 7, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

July 21, 2005 Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle
Houston Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

I doubt that Kurt Russell has ever had less dialogue to work with than he has in this film.

July 12, 2002 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A potent comic-book-style action-adventure.

February 14, 2001 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A waste of snappy set decoration!

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Soldier is little more than dumb genre stuff!

January 1, 2000
Boston Globe
Top Critic IconTop Critic

...poignancy doesn't interfere with director Anderson's primary objective, which is to show people shooting each other and blowing stuff up.

August 8, 2011 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Despite being hampered by second-rate special effects and too many action film cliches, Soldier does have its fun parts.

March 3, 2006
FulvueDrive-in.com

Soldier didn't deserve to be treated so harshly critics, but it didn't deserve recommendations either.

June 24, 2004 Full Review
rec.arts.movies.reviews

Wow. What a terrible movie.

February 8, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Quips Online
Film Quips Online

Disappointing.

January 20, 2003 Full Review Source: rec.arts.movies.reviews
rec.arts.movies.reviews

There's too little character development and no reason to care.

December 8, 2002 Full Review Source: Film Threat
Film Threat

A doggedly simple-minded diversion of rare purity.

October 15, 2002 Full Review Source: Cincinnati Enquirer
Cincinnati Enquirer

Everything in this film is criminally bland, except for Russell's badass attitude.

September 10, 2002 Full Review Source: Montreal Film Journal
Montreal Film Journal

Competent and nothing more.

August 30, 2002 Full Review
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)

Soldier wants to be an intense thriller with cerebral significance, but suffers from self-seriousness and silly cliches.

June 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Boxoffice Magazine
Boxoffice Magazine

It resonates on more levels than just a simple action film.

January 1, 2001 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Derivative, dreary and painfully silly!

January 1, 2000
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The pop and sizzle would be twice as effective if it came with characters that connected!

January 1, 2000
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

An unimaginative retreading of past cinematic successes!

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Screen It!
Screen It!

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.
June 25, 2014
TheDudeLebowski65
Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer

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.
February 20, 2014
phubbs1

Super Reviewer

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.
February 9, 2012
CloudStrife84
Mike S

Super Reviewer

In the UK this was the biggest budget ever for a direct to video movie. Mostly because Russell took a reported $20 million pay cheque. What's great is that he clearly put in the work for that money. Looking buffer than ever and certainly capturing the correct look and tone for his character. I watched this not knowing it was a Paul W.S. Anderson film, which was lucky as I would have judged it before a single frame. Soldier focusses on Russell as Todd, a soldier that has been training since he was a child. Forced to watch dogs slaughtering pigs, heavy endurance tests where the loser is shot, and cognitive training too. Todd is a veteran of many wars, none of which have taken their toll on him, mostly because he doesn't have to socialise with civilians. Enter Jason Isaacs in moustached sneering form with his genetically engineered soldiers. They are stronger, faster, and better. After a training test Russell is believed dead and sent to a trash disposal planet. There he meets some people and he learns to care etc. Russell has so few lines you could actually count them on your toes and fingers. He uses subtle facial techniques and body posture. His reaction to his first ever hug is very emotional and powerful. The action is competent at least, and it's great to see some real violence in a sci-fi movie. The main theme shows that soldiers and loyalty are important, but it's almost important to keep the humanity that is present. I loved it when Russell went nuts, but never lost his cool, his intelligence and experience rises him above the new "improved" soldiers. There are moments where Anderson is clearly visible on screen. The lack of subtlety concerning Isaacs hammy performance being the main fault. An underrated and enjoyable action movie.
October 14, 2011
kiriyamakazou

Super Reviewer

    1. Sandra: Sgt. Todd... what's it like? What's it like being a soldier? What do you think about? [silence] You must think about something? [silence] What about feelings then? [silence] You must *feel* something? [pause]
    2. Todd: Fear.
    3. Sandra: Fear?
    4. Todd: Fear and discipline.
    5. Sandra: Now?
    6. Todd: Always.
    – Submitted by Nick S (2 years ago)
    1. Sandra: But one solider... against 17. What are you going to do?
    2. Todd: I'm going to kill 'em all sir.
    – Submitted by Dennis L (2 years ago)
    1. Sandra: How do you know they'll be back?
    2. Todd: Because they're soldiers sir... like me
    3. Sandra: Why are they doing this?
    4. Todd: They're obeying orders sir. It's their duty.
    5. Sandra: Do you know how many they will be?
    6. Todd: 17 more sir.
    7. Sandra: Oh my God, you can't fight 17 on your own. You have to organize us. We're not cowards. We'll do as you tell us. We'll fight.
    8. Todd: No.
    9. Sandra: Why?
    10. Todd: Because soldiers deserve soldier sir.
    – Submitted by Dennis L (2 years ago)
    1. Caine 607: Come in unit 703. Unit 703 do you copy?
    2. Todd: [growling]
    – Submitted by Dennis L (2 years ago)
View all quotes (4)

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