Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Soldier (1998)

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.