Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Soldier (1998) - Movie Review - 10/10
Soldier is an unfortunate film, in that it doesn't fit into the modern stereotypes, and as a result failed. On the surface, many expected simply a modern explosion-filled action movie. It delivers those elements in good measure, but we are also treated to much more. As a result, many of those who might have otherwise enjoyed it, may not have seen it, expecting simply lots of mindless action.
Soldier harkens back to the 80s style of action adventure movie in many ways. At its core, we have a story about a traumatised character, raised from birth to be nothing but an emotionless military weapon. Both Kurt and the role, have been criticised for the lack of script, but that is the ESSENCE of the character. He is a killing machine, learning to be human. If anything, Kurt should be applauded for his subtle approach to the role. It's the small things that give the character such pathos and depth. From identifying with the mute boy, to his confusion at shedding a tear after being ostracised. Even the minimalist expressions and gestures between he and his men at the end, as he picks up the boy, speak volumes. There is more character in a few of his looks and actions, than any number of overly verbose, two dimensional movie heroes.
In some ways, perhaps the problem for many people, is that it truly is a film of two halves. First we have a character piece, exploring the emotions and situations of this soldier. What makes him the way he is. How his life has been conditioned and controlled, and his subsequent reactions and feelings to learning a new way of life. Secondly, we have an all-out battle, where he fights to save the new life he has found, finally finding a purpose, something that gives him meaning. Perhaps the result was that viewers wanting only one type of movie or the other, didn't feel satisfied with that combination.
A lot Soldier's depth is beneath the surface, hinted at visually and emotionally, rather than handed out on a platter, and it's easy to see how it can be missed. On another note, when we do hit the action scenes, they are brutal, quick, and full of impact. The climactic battle is one of the most satisfying hand-to-hand fights to be seen in years. This isn't a film where people jump around on wires in slow motion. They get hurt, they bleed, they die. As a result, it probably didn't appeal to the newer breed of action fan, either.
I've gradually become a bit of a Paul Anderson fan, and this is his best work, tragically underrated. Soldier is an atmospheric, stylish, and surprisingly layered character piece, that still manages to be an excellent old-style adrenaline ride. If you like your science fiction and your action movies with a bit more depth and punch, you could do worse than see Soldier.