Soldier (1998) (DVD film review).

The film ‘Soldier’ is set in the near future where potential kids are raised to become top military soldiers. They are dangerous and deadly, obeying orders without question and taking part in all sorts of campaigns on and off-world. This all changes when Colonel Mekum (actor Jason Issacs) arrives with a new team that were genetically manipulated. The new team verge on super-human but lack field experience. Even so, one of them, Caine 607 (actor Jason Scott Lee), takes out three of the old team, including Todd 3465 (actor Kurt Russell) and the rest of the team are taken off combat duty much to the disgust of their controller Church (actor Gary Busey).


The three dead soldiers bodies are dumped on a moon used for wreckage. However, Todd survived and is taken in by space-wrecked colonisers, on their way to a different moon system, who aid his recovery. Trying to overcome his training is difficult and ultimately, they think he might be too dangerous to have him live with them simply because he can’t fit it. To some extent, Todd understands this and leaves peacefully. It isn’t until later when the son Nathan (actors Jared and Taylor Thorne) of couple Mace and Sandra (actors Sean Pertwee and Connie Nielsen) kills a deadly snake in the way that Todd taught him that they realise the mistake. Mace goes to get him back and they both run into the returning war spaceship who Meckum orders that anyone found there is the enemy to be destroyed, not realising that there were colonisers there or I doubt if he really cared. With Mace killed, Todd decides he now will save the colony and battle commences.

Dialogue-wise, Kurt Russell has very little dialogue and much of his acting depends on emoting and carries that well. It would have been interesting to see just what this military are actually fighting for as we don’t even see the enemy. Even the hint of colonies tends to suggest that they don’t have much in the way of natural enemies.

Scriptwriter David Peebles has an SF pedigree, having been involved with ‘Blade Runner’ (1982) and director Paul Anderson with ‘Mortal Combat’ (1995) and later ‘Event Horizon’ (1997). ‘Soldier’ is relentless and yet you cannot resist watching as they make a very strong point that when you have people educated only in war that they are not complete people and literally are cannon-fodder and not even seen as human even by their own superiors. The glimmer of hope that this might change at the end also depends on whose orders they obey. Don’t watch ‘Soldier’ purely for its violent aspects. The points it makes will stick in your hearts.

GF Willmetts

September 2014

(region 2 DVD: pub: Warner Bros Z1 16958. 95 minute film on double-sided DVD, one side showing regular and the other widescreen versions. Price: under £ 2.00 (UK) if you know where to look)

cast: Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Connie Nielsen, Michael Chiklis, Gary Busey, Jason Issacs and Sean Pertwee

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