Soldier (1998) Paul “The Man” Anderson

Production Budget: $75 million
Worldwide Gross: $15 million

Soldier is set in the same futuristic universe as Blade Runner (useless nerd trivia) except not on Earth.  The movie is about Sgt. Todd (Kurt Russell) who was picked from birth to be the perfect soldier.  Todd becomes a experienced veteran but he is replaced by a genetically engineered soldier (Jason Scott Lee, roided up since Jungle Book).  Todd is dumped on a garbage planet inhabited by a small human community.  Through the community, Todd learns to become more human.  However the new soldiers come to the planet for military drills and Todd must protect the community from the new soldiers.

What’s strange about this movie is just how cheap it looks.  When I first got this movie on VHS I thought this was a low budget release.  You really don’t get the feel this is a big budget action blockbuster.  Many of the scenes are on cave locations and stock spaceship sound stages.  There are only a few effects shots say when they land on the planet.

What’s odd is that this isn’t a good movie, yet I have seen this several times.  I guess I have to give a lot to Russell who despite saying a grand total of like 97 words this whole movie is fun to watch.  Probably my favorite moment is when Todd grabs and enemies radio and gives his own “I’m your worst nightmare” message.  Except in this case he just growls and the evil commander gives the perfect WTF reaction.  That is just funny as hell.  To say he plays the strong silent type well is a massive understatement.  This whole movie is built around the premise Russell is a buff mofo who will f*ck your shit up.

I kind of mentioned Rambo before, but the comparison is rather apt.  This is Rambo in space.  Todd is a one man army picking off enemy soldiers one by one while Connie Nielsen tells him “you no expendable”.  All the while Gary freaking Busey plays the Col. Troutman equivalent telling the smarmy commander he’s going to need a whole lot of body bags.  There is a certain fun of seeing an even cheesier Rambo IN SPAAAACE!

This isn’t a great movie though.  The story drags in the second act when Todd interacts with the humans and comes out of his shell.  I realize its necessary to the story, but its the equivalent of finishing your meat before getting to the pudding.

There is not much defending this movie.  This is cheesy actionspoitation, but it’s fun for me.  Soldier has enough cheesy lines, good action, and goofy performances you will be entertained.  It’s a bad movie, but fun at the same time.


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