Movie Review 2008 #44: Soldier

A trippy low budget movie about future soldiers on alien planets in war, starring Kurt Russell.

Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson (who directed) Soldier is the story of Todd, who has been trained and used as a soldier his entire life. The opening sequence shows us in brief snippets his upbringing and his missions, as he has grown to become the best soldier in his unit.
When a new breed of genetically bred super soldier makes Todd obsolete, and dumped on a garbage planet, Todd’s story takes a classic plot twist when a group of squatters/refugees takes him in, just in time for the same super soldiers who made him obsolete come calling for a fight. The “obsolete” Todd has to fight the same soldiers who beat him once already.
With Kurt Russell as Todd, can you expect anything except victory?
While the movie is solidly in its execution of the fighting and action, there are a few things in the movie that raise its score in my book. First, the subtleties of the movie were not lost on me. References in dialogue and on screen make it clear, to me, that the movie takes place in the same universe as Blade Runner. While Todd is not Roy Beatty, he is still a figure who, deep down, wants to be more than what he has been all of his life.
Even more unusual is the deliberate choice of Todd’s personality. Although he is on screen for more than three quarters of the time, his dialogue is minimal. His lack of communication reinforces his isolation and his strange nature.
The minor characters, both in the refugees and in the military command that Todd is driven from and later faces, do well with their roles for the most part. The movie makes good use of Sean Pertwee, Connie Nielsen, Jason Isaacs and especially Gary Busey. I don’t think Jason Lee as Caine 607, Todd’s nemesis, is quite the right casting–but it might just be that Russell, even silent, has far more charisma as an actor than Lee does.
I liked the movie more than I expected I would. It’s not a great movie, but its a decent one.