Saturday, 14 December 2013

Toy Soldiers (1991)





















Ah the ever popular brat pack type casting line up, a selection of young Hollywood faces either on the edge of becoming major stars or falling into obscurity. In this forgotten action thriller its Gomez Addams son Sean Astin and Wil Wheaton who are the main rising stars, the rest of the youngsters have fallen by the way side. But unlike some other young gun lineups this film also includes various adult stars to add that bit of quality to the film.

Dare I say it? the plot is basically Die Hard in a boarding school? sure it is. Group of terrorists take over a posh school for kids of rich families. Their purpose is solely to see the release of the terrorist leaders father who is some kind of drug kingpin. So its up to this small band of plucky smart ass teens to take back control of their school from the nasty bad guys with automatic weapons.

The similarities to that certain Bruce Willis franchise are clear to see. If you take the basic premise of Die Hard and mix it with 'The Goonies' and The A-Team you see what I mean. The teens in the story use their skills, knowledge of the school and cheekiness to somewhat outwit the bad guys and slightly disable them for the special ops guys to mop up. There is a very fine line between a happy go lucky boys own adventure flick and in your face bloody squibbed violence which is a bit odd actually.

Its difficult to know what the film is trying to be, an adult action film or a light-hearted teen flick. The young cast are clearly enjoying themselves in their roles which gives off a vibe which clashes badly against the older actors. The bad guys and their leader played menacingly by Divoff are really going for broke and being damn ruthless gunning innocents down and chucking them out of helicopters etc...Problem is these two sides just don't gel too well together, seeing Astin playing an older version of Mouth from 'The Goonies' and Denholm Elliot playing an old lovable professor set against Divoff's cold blooded killer feels uncomfortable (Divoff really relishing his gritty evil Colombian drug lord role). Its like two different films.

Yet despite the moments of bloodshed the action is so predictable and almost childish as it unravels. The special ops guys at the end come across as inept, plus there is like a whole army of them and it takes them some time to take out just two bad guys. There are only twelve bad guys and it really feels like there needed to be more to make the ending more exciting. The action and soundtrack was reaching such a crescendo in the finale...but because there are so few bad guys in the end it feels totally deflating. Also the way the special ops storm the school, they could of just done that straight away! apparently it would of made no difference.

I love how all the Colombian bad guys are dressed up as sweaty, dirty, vest wearing guerrilla fighters with headbands and lots of stubble. Not too stereotypical then. The very end is also terribly corny and unoriginal, surely Divoff could of gone out in a slightly more exciting way? Oh yeah there's even a crawling in an air duct homage to 'Die Hard'.

This was one of those films that I enjoyed back in the day when I was much younger mainly because the young cast were appealing. I kinda looked up to them as I did with other similar brat pack flicks (wanted to be them) and I was around their age when I first saw it (or a bit younger). Looking back now the film isn't really too good, its actually really dumb, looks silly and has an even sillier title. It sounds predictable I know but it really does feel as if they wanted to make a 'Die Hard' for teens.

4/10