Monday, May 6, 2013

Soldier (1998)

I suppose that if Soldier was made now,it would be a more soulful film,looking deep into the mind of a man who's undergone decades of conditioning and discipline,and his struggle to awaken the humanity that's been buried.

We didn't get that when Paul W.S. Anderson made Soldier back in 1998....we got a film that harkened back to the 80's,when a lone hero would face a bloody battle against superior forces in a post apocalyptic wasteland. Unlike those films,Soldier had a big budget and a script by Blade Runner scribe David Peoples,and the always dependable Kurt Russell.

And it flopped,bigtime. Soldier was defeated by audience apathy,and in my opinion,that's a damned shame. Maybe it's because Russell was playing an emotionally blank wisecracking Jack Burton to be had here,nor a supercynical badass Snake Plissken. Nope,there was nothing for people to relate to....well,almost.

I must admit that Soldier must have been a hard sell - the opening montage features a scene in which Russell kills an enemy soldier (and an unfortunate human shield who gets in the way) may have alienated people. But to Russell's credit,it's his skill as an actor which manages to reveal that there's still a glimmer of humanity to be had as the story unfolds,made all the more difficult by the fact that he has hardly any dialogue - it's the use of body language and facial reactions which illustrates what's going on. He's simply a man who's been made to follow orders,but by the end of the film,he's making decisions for himself.

And let's talk about the last act of this film. Paul W.S. Anderson gets alot of flak,but he showed alot of promise with this and Event Horizon. His love for science fiction/action films is well known,and it's arguable that he either payed homage or ripped off films - whatever the case,it works here. I absolutely loved watching Kurt Russell wreak unholy war upon Jason Scott Lee and his genetically engineered troops during the film's bloody climax. Nothing fancy about it,just good old fashioned violence - and although the final fight between Russell and Lee maybe be cliched (thunder and lightning!),there's just something primal about watching two men beat the crap out of each other.

Overall,i'd rate Soldier 8/10 - far from obsolete.

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