Volume 92, Issue 30
Wednesday, October 28, 1998
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Soldier fails to stand at attention
Photo by Ron Phillips
By Dan Nedelcu
Kurt Russell may be pumped up, but his new film Soldier is weak and feeble. It is the latest sci-fi shoot-em-up action flick, a sci-fi western if you will, and luckily it's the only one of its type coming out this season.
Director Paul Anderson always seems to put special effects and action ahead of dialogue and story, as he has done in his previous efforts, Mortal Kombat and Event Horizon. However, in Soldier, he takes this passion even further with one dimensional characters and regurgitated action sequences.
Kurt Russell spent close to a year working out in order to play Todd, one bad mother of a soldier. He was selected from birth and trained to fight and kill without emotion. "A soldier must be strong and have no fear," is a message that is burned into Todd's psyche from a very young age.
Even though the film takes place in the near future, the first segment is spent showing Todd's evolution through the years as he becomes this supreme killing machine all in the span of 17 years. This is followed by a pointless montage sequence of numerous battles in which all the soldiers, including Todd, demolish their enemies. Thirty-seven years later, Todd has become the perfect Soldier, but as technology improves so do the soldiers.
Now enters the new breed of soldiers. These bad boys aren't just trained from birth, they are genetically enhanced to be faster, stronger and more efficient. In turn they put Russell's character to shame through a series of endurance tests, eventually annihilating him to a planet reserved for waste disposal. Here he runs into a group of outcast refugees who take him in and try to make him part of their society. However, this fails due to the fact that Todd is a soldier and since he has been programmed to kill, he doesn't have the skills to integrate with these people.
This film is a copy of so many other films it is almost laughable. The refugee camp on the frontier planet more than resembles the post nuclear sets of the Mad Max series. Everything from the homes built from wreckage material, to the torn futuristic wardrobes have been seen before. There is even a Rambo element to this film. It appears near the end when Russell's character becomes a one-man army and takes on all the new and improved soldiers by himself.
This must have been Kurt Russell's dream job as his character does not form more than 20 sentences through the whole film and the people that do speak are given such crummy dialogue it becomes painful. This is really strange considering that Soldier was penned by David Webb Peoples, co-writer of Blade Runner and the Oscar winning Unforgiven.
The only up side to Soldier is the special effects. Although they are not breath-taking, Anderson is able to create some clever futuristic props, such as spaceships, assault vehicles and rapid-firing weapons. However, this is not enough to save this film. The bottom line is that it's been done before and done better.
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