Soldier Starring Kurt Russell

Retro Review: Soldier Starring Kurt Russell

Here are some updated thoughts (2015):  Yes, as mentioned below Soldier is one of my guilty pleasures.  It’s not a particularly good movie.  Hell, in most eyes it’s probably not even a passable science fiction movie.  The main antagonist has the name of Caine.  Really?  I don’t care.  I like it.  I like watching a jacked up Kurt Russell blow the hell out of an equally jacked up Jason Scott Lee.  I like watching Todd try to change from being a killing machine into a civilian . . . then back again to protect the people who saved him. I didn’t mention it, but throw in Gary Busey and how can you lose?!  I remember going into the theater those many years ago with zero expectations.  The fact that I walked out the doors feeling entertained must have added to my misguided affection for the story of the downtrodden Todd and his struggle with adapting to a new life and feeling obsolete.

Soldier just proves that old dogs die hard, but at the same time there’s always room to grow.

Going into this movie based on the trailers, I wasn’t expecting an Academy Award worthy film, nor were the people who made it, nor should you.  Let’s be practical here . . . Soldier is an action film in its purest form.

Kurt Russell plays the role of Sergeant Todd, the most decorated soldier of his elite group.  Chosen from an orphaned births and trained through the first 20 years of their lives, Todd and his fellow soldiers are put to the test time and time again in small to massive conflicts across the galaxy.  After countless wars the soldiers are awaiting their next mission when a new group of soldiers are introduced.  Todd is one of the last of an inferior model.  The new batch of soldiers have been genetically engineered to be faster, stronger and quicker, making the previous soldiers look worn out, old, and obsolete.  Todd and two other soldiers take on one of the new ‘superior’ soldiers and basically get the shit beat out of them, but not before Todd gets a good eye rip on the new soldier.  Presumed to be dead the three soldiers are disposed of by being thrown in a gigantic garbage starship.  That’s the price of genetic obsolescence in 2035!  Todd is alive and wakes up to find himself inside the massive ship, only to be summarily dumped on a supposed lifeless planet like yesterday’s trash.

Soldier PosterTodd is a veteran soldier of numerous galactic conflicts and, although he is one of the best, his days are drawing to a close.  A new breed of “engineered” soldiers wipe out both of Todd’s squad members and severely wound Todd in a government ordered test.  Assumed dead, Todd is dumped on a remote planet — a garbage outpost — peopled only by a group of lost and forgotten pioneers.  When a battalion of the new soldiers attack the outpost, Todd is called to defend his adopted home with the help of the other inhabitants.


Director:  Paul Anderson
Starring:  Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Connie Nelson
Genre:  Science Fiction
Media:  Film, 99 minutes
Rating: R
Year: October 23rd, 1998
3.5 out of 5 stars

The basic plot for this movie isn’t really all that bad when taken in context of what Soldier is trying to be.  I guess it depends on what you’re looking for in an action movie.  As Todd is dumped on the garbage planet he finds a group of people that had previously crash landed with no means of escape.  Todd is taken in by these people and he soon discovers, as a fish out of water getting used to being a civilian, that there’s more to life than just death and survival.  As we soon find out Todd always has room (and necessity) for death and survival.

We quickly figure out from the first time we see the new breed of elite soldiers that Todd will have to face them again in a later act of the film.  Since the new soldiers hadn’t been tested in actual combat situations they eventually make their way to the garbage planet where Todd was dumped.  The new elite soldiers start killing the innocent people assuming that they are hostiles, since they shouldn’t be on the planet.  Todd helps them and the ass-kicking starts.

I’m not really much of a fan of the “Escape From . . . ” series (also starring Russell), but this movie just fit the tone of an action movie better than those John Carpenter films.  The action really doesn’t get going until about half way through the movie, but then it’s all mayhem for the rest of the show.  I’ll admit the action isn’t anything new, the lone soldier taking on the new all powerful soldiers, but speaking for myself it’s just a lot of fun to watch Todd exact revenge on his newly minted and superior peers.  Don’t ask me why, because I can’t exactly pinpoint why I enjoyed Soldier.  Maybe it’s the fact Sergeant Todd only says about ten words in the whole movie, my favorite being, “I’m gonna kill them all sir.”  Todd doesn’t waste time talking and weeping about how he’s obsolete, he just wants to be a soldier again and kick some serious ass!  Of course . . . why wouldn’t he?  It’s Kurt Russell in a science fiction action film!!!  And who doesn’t like a good revenge movie?!

Even though I enjoyed Soldier for what it is, you have to be in the right frame of mind to enjoy it. For that reason I didn’t give it a higher score. I fully admit that Soldier is a guilty pleasure of mine, and the worst thing you can do while viewing it is taking it too seriously.  So check your brain at the door and bask in its awesomeness. Am I overdoing it?

Words © 1998-2020, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
Images/videos cited © to their respective owner(s).


  1. I think there is a different perspective to Todd that sheds more meaning to the story. Rather than “wanting” to be a Soldier, he simply is a Soldier. It’s all he has ever known. But, despite the best efforts of his trainers, he is still human with unexplored desires and a yearning to belong. We see these aspects very delicately handled as struggles with affection toward the wife of the family who is housing him. We see it as he develops a paternal bond with the son of the family. Yet, the movie is cleverly directed to keep these powerful human forces at arms length and ultimately overshadowed by a calling for the one thing that Todd is exceedingly good at: killing. Except, Todd finally gets to kill to defend something that has meaning to himself rather than because he is ordered to. It’s in this growth that Todd finally establishes how he belongs with his new home.

    1. Good point about Todd simply being a soldier. I think the movie also shows that you can’t selectively breed out the things that are programmed into our genes. The things that make us individuals, and not just human robots…which is what Todd was created to be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To the top