Writer David Peoples gave us Blade Runner, Unforgiven, and 12 Monkeys. He and director Paul Anderson–Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon–delivered Soldier. Essentially Shane in Space, this Science Fiction, One Man Army actionfest starred Kurt Russell. Critics and audiences hated it.
My trusted Rottentomatoes gives it a 12%.
Orly? Twelve?? Percent?!?
Kurt Russell was at the top of his game. Iconic character roles like Snake Plissken and Jack Burton. He’d previously delivered in Escape from New York, The Thing, Big Trouble in Little China, Backdraft, Tombstone, an also underappreciated Stargate, and Escape from L.A..
He delivers what may be the single strongest performance in horror movie history”ScreenRant’s Chris Hodges on Russell’s performance as R.J. MacReady in John Carpenters ‘The Thing’
The principal, super soldier Todd 3465, is a wooden marionette more Jiminy than Pinocchio. With a meager hundred words and change in dialogue, Russell has to convey a lot non-verbally. To his credit, he does just that. Russell wills the character to life with body language and his eyes.
Todds blank face of a canvas quickly becomes a projection screen for what the audience thinks, hopes he should be feeling. You may not love Todd, you may not even like him. But thanks to Russell’s portrayal, you’ll quickly find yourself cheering for him.
Set in the same universe as Bladerunner, the plot is relatively hole-free. Soldier discarded by the state that created him is given a chance to (re)gain his humanity. And dispense a little poetic justice while doing so.
The visuals, CGI and action sequences are passable, as is the soundtrack–with one exception. The montage set to Loreena McKennitt’s “Night Ride Across the Caucasus” is one of the best in moviedom. Nothing comes close to Queen’s “Who wants to live forever” in Highlander. And “Aint no Sunshine” from Notting Hill is a lock for second. Maybe third best, then.
What went wrong?
Nothing. Much. Soldier didn’t offer anything particularly new, and that was part of the problem. Still, far worse movies have fared far better. Sometimes movies just, well, flop.
Soldier thudded like a 1996 non-transhuman soldier thrown off of the top of a rope chain by a Nexus-9 replicant. So, remake, reboot, or rest in peace?
This sub-genre isn’t going away any time soon. We seem to have a neverending appetite for one man army, human vs. superhuman books and movies. But definitely, definitely rewatch. Rotten Tomatoes can’t always be right 😛
And if/when someone does decide to remake it? Do it right.
Because Soldiers deserve Soldiers.
Todd 3465 is a veteran of the Shoulder of Orion and Tannhäuser Gate campaigns, and is qualified on the Illudium PU36 Explosive Space Modulator and the DOOM MKIV BFG. Garbage on the planet includes the F-117X Remora from Executive Decision and a piece of the Lewis & Clark from Event Horizon.
The source screenplay and story are originally from sf literary master Harlan Ellison? It *is* eerily similar to his “Soldier from Tomorrow” and the Outer Limits episode based on it, “Soldier.”