- "Left for dead on a remote planet for obsolete machines and people, a fallen hero has one last battle to fight".
Soldier is a 1998 American science fiction action film directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, written by David Webb Peoples and starring Kurt Russell, Jason Scott Lee, Jason Isaacs, Connie Nielsen, Sean Pertwee and Gary Busey. The film tells the story of a highly skilled genetically advanced soldier defying his commanders and facing a relentless and brutal rival soldier.
The film was released worldwide on October 23, 1998. Upon its release, Soldier received generally negative reviews but many praised the action sequences and Russell's performance. The film was a commercial failure, grossing $14 million worldwide against a production budget of $60 million.
In 1996, as part of a new military training program, a group of orphaned infants are selected at birth and raised as highly disciplined soldiers with no understanding of anything but military routine. They are trained to be ruthless obedient killers, and all those considered to be physically or mentally unworthy are executed. The survivors are turned into impassive dedicated fighting machines with no exposure to or understanding of the outside world.
In 2035, at the age of 40, Sgt. Todd 3465 is a hardened veteran and the best soldier of the original 1996 infants, but his unit is challenged for replacement by a superior unit. Colonel Mekum, the leader of the original project, introduces a new group of genetically engineered soldiers, designed with superior physical attributes and a complete lack of emotion, except complete aggression.
Captain Church, the commander of Todd's unit, insists on testing the abilities of the new soldiers against those of his proven older ones. A new soldier, Caine 607, easily defeats three of the original soldiers, but Todd gouges out Caine's eye before he seemingly dies when he falls from a great height; the body of a dead soldier actually cushioned his fall and he is simply stunned and knocked unconscious. Mekum orders their bodies disposed of like garbage, declaring them obsolete, while the remaining older soldiers are demoted to menial unarmed support roles.
Dumped on Arcadia 234, a waste disposal planet, Todd limps toward a colony whose residents crash-landed there years earlier; as they were believed dead, no rescue missions have been attempted. Todd is sheltered by Mace and his wife Sandra. Though they try to make him welcome, Todd has difficulty adapting to the community due to his extremely rigid impassive conditioning and their conflict-free lives. Todd develops a silent rapport with their mute son, Nathan, who had been traumatized by a snakebite as an infant and watches upon the happy loving family with yearning in his eyes. When the child silently looks to him for a defense against a coiled snake, Todd refuses, demanding that Nathan face it down and strike back to protect himself. Nathan's parents intervene and disapprove of the lesson, unsure of how to deal with the silent soldier. Todd becomes disoriented by exposure to peaceful civilian life and soon begins to experience flashbacks from his time killing civilians and battling other soldiers. To make matters worse, he mistakes one of the colonists for an enemy when the fellow surprises him, nearly killing him. Fearful, the colonists expel Todd from the community. Apparently rejected by every society he has known, the military and the refugee civilians, Todd shows strong emotion for the first time after being expelled. Overcome by loss, he quietly cries. A short time later, Mace and Sandra are almost bitten by a snake while they sleep, but they are saved by Nathan's use of Todd's aggressive defensive technique to protect them. Now understanding the value of Todd's lesson, they seek him to reintegrate him into the community, regardless of the opposition of the others who fear him.
The new genetically engineered soldiers arrive on the garbage planet and since the world is listed as uninhabited, Colonel Mekum decides to use the colonists' community as the target in a training exercise. Just after Mace finds Todd, apologizes and invites him back, the soldiers spot Mace and kill him. Though outmanned and outgunned, Todd's years of battle experience and superior knowledge of the planet allow him to return to the colony and kill the advance squad. Nervous that an unknown enemy force may be confronting them, Colonel Mekum orders the soldiers to withdraw and return with heavy artillery. Using guerrilla tactics, Todd outmaneuvers and defeats all of the remaining soldiers, including Caine 607, whom he defeats in vicious hand-to-hand combat by clever tactics rather than mere physical prowess.
Panicking, Mekum orders the transport ship's crew, composed of Todd's old squad, to set up and activate a portable nuclear device powerful enough to destroy the planet. He then orders the ship to lift off, leaving the squad behind. When Captain Church objects, Mekum shoots him in cold blood. Before they can take off as planned, Todd appears and his old comrades silently side with him over the army that has discarded them. They take over the ship, leaving Mekum and his supportive aides on the planet while they evacuate the remaining colonists. In an attempt to disarm the nuclear device, Mekum accidentally sets it off, killing him and his aides. Todd pilots the ship from Arcadia just ahead of the shockwave and sets course for the Trinity Moons, the colonists' original destination. When Nathan enters the control room and reaches for Todd, he then picks up Nathan and points to their new destination, while looking out upon the galaxy.
- Kurt Russell as Todd 3465
- Jason Scott Lee as Caine 607
- Jason Isaacs as Mekum
- Connie Nielsen as Sandra
- Sean Pertwee as Mace
- Jared Thorne and Taylor Thorne as Nathan
- Mark Bringleson as Rubrick
- Gary Busey as Church
- K.K. Dodds as Sloan
- James Black as Riley
- Mark De Alessandro as Goines
- Vladimir Orlov as Romero
- Carsten Norgaard as Green
- Duffy Gaver as Chelsey
Connection to Blade Runner
It was written by David Webb Peoples, who also was involved in rewriting the script for Blade Runner; so by his own admission, it could be considered a spin-off sidequel to Blade Runner. It obliquely references various elements of stories written by Philip K. Dick (who wrote the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, on which Blade Runner is based) or film adaptations thereof. For example, a vehicle from Blade Runner, known as a "spinner," can be viewed in one scene. However, Dick was not involved in the film's creation, nor was it directly based on any of his works.
- Kurt broke his left ankle and the top of his right foot during this movie, but pushed himself to complete it.
- Writer David Peoples has claimed that this movie is a sequel of sorts to Blade Runner, which he also wrote. He claims that the soldiers of this movie are examples of the engineered life forms seen in Blade Runner; vehicles seen in Blade Runner are also seen in this movie. In addition, a list of Kurt Russel's weapon training history indicates that he has been trained on the M41A Pulse Rifle and USCM Smartgun, weapons seen in the movie Aliens - which could indicate that that franchise also exists within the same universe.
- Although he is onscreen for 85% of the movie's runtime, Kurt Russell's character speaks only a total of 104 words.
- 'Russell, Kurt' sustained a broken ankle during the first week of filming, and got a week off. When he came back, all of the scenes where he was laying down were filmed. They followed that with the sitting-down scenes, then the standing-still scenes. Finally, the action scenes were shot. The last scene filmed was the "running" scene between Todd and Cain 607 near the beginning of the movie.
- Shorter people (4' tall) were used in the scenes with the large military vehicles to make the machines look larger.
- Among the garbage on the planet is the USS Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the F-117X Remora from Executive Decision (1996), a spinner from Blade Runner (1982), and a piece of the Lewis & Clark from Event Horizon (1997).
- Todd's service record, displayed on a computer screen, includes the following:
- The battles of Tannhauser Gate and Shoulder of Orion (references to Blade Runner (1982))
- Receipt of the "Plissken Medal" (reference to Escape from New York (1981) and its sequel Escape from L.A.). **Receipt of the "O'Neil Ring Award" (reference to Stargate (1994))
- Receipt of the "Cash Medal of Honor" (reference to Tango and Cash (1989))
- Receipt of the "Maccready Cross" (reference to The Thing (1982))
- Receipt of the "Capt Ron Trophy" (reference to Captain Ron (1992))
- Receipt of the "McCaffrey Fire Award" (reference to Backdraft (1991))
- Receipt of the "Dexter Riley Award" (reference to The Strongest Man in the World (1975), Now You See Him, Now You Don't (1972), The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969))
- Citations for the Nibian Moons Campaign, the Antares Maelstrom War and the War Of Perdition's Flames, locations referred to in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982).
- Todd's weapons training record lists the "USCM Smartgun"; "M41A pulse rifle" (references to Aliens (1986)) and the "DOOM MKIV BFG," a reference to the computer game Doom; "Illudium PU36 ESM," otherwise known as the Illudium PU36 Explosive Space Modulator—the same weapon Marvin the Martian is always threatening to use on Earth in Loony Tunes cartoons.
- Writer David Peoples has said that Soldier is a "side-quel" to Blade Runner (which he also wrote) because it takes place in the same universe and in fact the vehicles used by the Blade Runners, spinners, are also used in Soldier.
- The trailer featured a spectacular space battle involving 20-30 ships around a planet. The film contained no such scene, nor could it plausibly have done so except perhaps as a flashback. It was probably a marketing ploy.
- The space suit at the beginning of the trailer is the same one used in the TV series Firefly.
- During the sequences where Caine 607 is driving the crawler, the control he uses to fire the weapons is a Saitek X36 PC joystick.
- During the War Of Six Cities scene, the map hanging on the wall is the plan of the Moscow Metropolitain.
- Among the garbage in the ship that slides towards Todd when he gets dumped on the planet is the Liberty Bell
- The films's original title was "The Base".
- A false press statement was released, saying that Kurt Russell broke his ankle during a stunt, when in fact he tripped over an ornamental cabbage during a break.
- One of the sound bites when Cane is pounding the residence is music from Led Zepplin's "Immigrant Song".
Soldier was released on DVD on March 2, 1999. It was released as a double-sided disc, which included the widescreen version on one side, with fullscreen on the other. The film's audio was mixed in Dolby 5.1 surround sound for the DVD, and included on the disc was a film commentary.
- Available Subtitles: English, French
- Available Audio Tracks: English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
- Commentary by: director 'Paul Anderson (III)' (qv), co-producer 'Jeremy Bold' (qv) and actor 'Jason Isaacs' (qv) (Dolby Digital 2.0)