Soldier (1998)

(In theaters, October 1998) I usually have a very high tolerance for bad SF, especially if it can be enjoyed as cheap SF. Soldier started out as a promising prospect: Written by David Webb Peoples (Blade Runner), directed by Paul Anderson (Event Horizon) and starring Kurt Russell, it seemed to be headed for a mix of intelligence, dynamism and coolness. It ends up as a disaster with neither. The script is beyond ordinary, offering no surprises and ever fewer interesting moments. The direction is flat, a shocking thing from Anderson who, despite being a moron (read any interview with the guy) had proved himself to be a visually interesting action director in Mortal Kombat. The only star emerging with his dignity intact is Russell, who despite saying a handful of words (estimates vary between 69 (Russell) and 104 (Edward Johnson-Ott). I counted around 75.) does wonders with what he had. But even that can’t rise above the ludicrousness of the setup (as serious SF, it fails in the first minutes), the cheap-looking sets, the awful touchy-feely song used as montage backdrop near the middle, the boooooring “action” scenes and the simple lack of imagination. I might have accepted this from B-series newcomers with low budgets. But given the talent and money that went into Soldier, the result might be best confined to the garbage planet (*Garbage Planet?*) it’s taking place on.

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