Director Paul W S Anderson’s superior and intelligent 1998 futuristic sci-fi action movie stars Kurt Russell as Todd 3465, a cyborg sergeant whose superiors dump him on a desolate planet, convinced that he is dead. But of course they are wrong and he becomes the protector of a beleaguered group of survivors there.
A grim-looking, monosyllabic Russell has few words to speak but he makes a strong impression in this robust and convincing sci-fi action thriller, with a strong screenplay by David Webb Peoples, some good action and an excellent, costly ($75 million) production. Todd is on screen more than 85 per cent of the time but speaks a total of only 104 words.
Soldier also stars Jason Scott Lee, Connie Nielsen, Jason Isaacs, Michael Chiklis, Gary Busey, and Sean Pertwee.
Also in the cast are Jaren Thorne, Taylor Thorne, Mark Bringleson, K K Dodds, James Black, Mark De Alessandro, Brenda Wehle, Elizabeth Dennehy and Paul Dillon.
Soldier was written 15 years earlier by David Webb Peoples, who considers it to be a spiritual successor to Blade Runner, which he co-wrote. It references various elements of stories written by Philip K Dick or film adaptations of his work. A Spinner vehicle from Blade Runner can be seen in the wreckage on a junk planet that features in the film. There are also dialogue references to events such as Tannhauser Gate from Blade Runner.
No wonder Russell looks grim – he was unlucky enough to break his ankle during the first week of shooting, so the production had to be rescheduled. The film-makers first shot scenes involving Russell lying down, followed by scenes of him sitting, then standing but not moving, as he got gradually better.
Alas it was all to no avail. Despite all the good work and strong entertainment value, Soldier was an unexpected box-office flop. Costing $75 million, it earned only $14,500,000 on its US release. Russell’s salary was $20 million. He worked out three or four hours a day for 18 months before filming.
Russell’s son Wyatt plays him as an 11-year old. The snakes used in the film are extremely venomous Thai vipers.
© Derek Winnert 2014 Classic Film Review 1174
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