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The Many Faces of Kurt Russell: SOLDIER (1998)

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Best Bad Kurt Quote: “I’m going to kill them all, Sir!” 
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One couldn’t really refer to Kurt Russell with any confidence as a “badass.” He lacks the muscle of Arnold or the poetic vengeance of Stallone. He cares too much to be Willis, and he’s too tall and fluently English-speaking to be Van Damme. At the height of his leading man days, he was the lovable PG-13 action buffoon. Don’t get me wrong, the man has obtained God status for Escape from New York alone, but while he is awesome, he is awesome with a wink. Even his kick ass work in Death Proof was contingent upon a little self-mockery. No, he’s not a badass… Unless, of course, you’re referring to him in Soldier. In Soldier, Kurt encroaches upon, and I dare say obtains, Mega-Badass status.
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In case you haven’t guessed, Cpt. Kurt is a soldier in this film. Todd 3465 to be exact. Trained since his youth to be an emotionless, obedient, shoot-to-kill instrument of intergalactic strength, he is the best of the best in his army. Troop? Regiment??? The story takes place in the future on a spaceship, so I’m unclear of the proper terminology. However, as soon as you meet this “kill now, ask questions later” man of steel, his position as a Universal Military man (or whatever) is threatened by new, genetically enhanced soldiers. These guys are bigger, badder versions of the old school warriors and are about to make their forefathers obsolete. After Todd loses a commendable fight against the baddest of them all, Caine (Jason Scott Lee), he is mistaken for dead and left on Garbage Planet. Literally, it is a dump site. I theorize that it used to be earth before we eventually destroyed it, but who knows? “God damn you to Hell!!!!!” #Monkeys
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Upon landing, the physically and mentally crushed Todd is taken in by the peaceful people who live peaceably in this stinky place. Not exactly a social dude, as he was taught only to speak when spoken to and, furthermore, call everyone “Sir,” Todd has a little trouble… fitting in. He’s the mute Steve Urkel of camouflage. He mostly just stands and sits really still, often while staring at unofficial den mother Sandra’s (Connie Nielsen) breasts. Hey, what are those things? Todd likey, but he no know what to do-ey… Plus, she’s married. Damn it! 
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Anyway, just when Todd is starting to, for him, loosen up and teach Sandra’s idiot kid how to kill snakes, which slither amok on planet trashcan for some unspecified reason, the new soldier mutants arrive to massacre the local people. There is no reason for this, btw. The important thing is, when a soldier has something to fight for, he only fights harder. Because of Sandra, Todd is very, very hard. This makes him dangerous. Look out, Caine. There’s an old soldier in town!
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I’m not gonna sugarcoat it for you. This isn’t a great film, but while it has its flaws, I wouldn’t condemn it to planet garbage. I would send it to one of the rings on the beautiful Planet Recycle, because I feel that it is worth seeing more than once, if only for Kurt. I want to compliment his acting, but I don’t know if I can. To be fair, he has very few lines and doesn’t have to do much more than look intense and sad– an effect that all actors know can be achieved by simply squeezing your butt cheeks together realllly tight. Still, Kurt pulls the facial magic off, and you do feel sincerely sorry for the dude, so I’ll give it to him. The most impressive factor, however, is the bod. Kurt NomoGut did a LOT of sit ups to lose his sunburned, Captain Ron belly for this movie. His physique is poppin’, and when he starts taking down synthetic, poser soldiers, it is truly an inspiration. Fire, the lurking gator pose in the water, using metal scraps as weaponry… Even while the movie feels like a cheap imitation of something else, at least Kurt gets the job done.
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The plot is built on a very interesting concept, but it falls a bit flat. It could have been taken in a much stronger direction, but the writing is too vague and characters too cliched to make the movie truly solid. I wasn’t certain whether Todd had been dumped at Hogwarts, the Shire, or Goblin City, but the environment was hokey, and I hated every last Goddamn hippie there. Unfortunately, David Bowie’s King Jareth did not make an appearance, so there was no “magic dancing” to save me from the unspeakable nonsense.
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As for the battle of the old soldiers, headed by Gary Busey, and the new soldiers, headed by Jason Isaacs (see,Hogwarts), there was no real meat (surprisingly) behind the story as it never fits into a wider spectrum. “Enemies” and “war” and “orders” were mentioned in dialogue, but the director/writer team didn’t ever flesh out this futuristic world for the viewer, so it all feels insincere and clumsy. When vengeance comes, there is the expected pee puddle of the “coward behind the curtain,” but Todd hasn’t built up enough of a running vendetta against this film’s sorry excuse for a villain for such a normally gratifying act to make any sense. Wasted urine– the worst of all cinematic offenses.
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All said, it’s a jolly, slightly ridiculous, but rewarding 99 minutes, if only because you get to see Kurt flex his pecks and beat the “s” out of some serious d-bags. Be careful what you throw away; it might come back to haunt you.
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Rating:
 
3 out of 5 Engorged Russell Corpuscles
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One Response to “The Many Faces of Kurt Russell: SOLDIER (1998)”

  1. Dar says:

    Good movie really.

    Apparently takes place in the same world as “Blade Runner”.

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