Soldier is a 1998 science-fiction action adventure film directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and starring Kurt Russell and Jason Scott Lee as a pair of futuristic soldiers who do battle on a decaying planet.Sergeant Todd (Russell) was raised from birth to become a new breed of soldier, and leads an elite commando unit on Earth. Along with his fellow soldiers, Todd has received extreme mental and physical conditioning to become an instrument of war. However, his commanding officer, Colonel Mekum (Jason Isaacs) develops a new group of genetically-augmented soldiers with superior physical abilities and a complete lack of emotions. In the ensuing transfer of control to the new soldiers, Captain Church (Gary Busey) orders a contest between the "old" soldiers and the genetically-modified ones, led by Caine 607 (Lee).Todd is seemingly killed during the ensuing test (but is actually unconscious) and his body is dumped on the surface of Arcadia 234, a waste mining planet. Although badly injured, Todd manages to make his way to a colony of humans who crash-landed on the planet many years earlier and built their own society. Todd and the colonists begin to work together to survive, but they are interrupted by the arrival of the genetically-modified soldiers, who are taking part in a training exercise and intend to kill the settlers. Together with the colonists, including healer Sandra (Connie Nielsen) and her son Nathan, Todd decides to fight back and protect his new allies.The film was written by David Peoples, and was intended to be a sidestory/Spiritual Successor to Blade Runner (to the point that multiple references to Runner are seen throughout the film).
This film contains the following Tropes:
Alien Sky: Arcadia has a dull, brown sky with two suns circling it.
Chekhov's Hobby: Todd is listed on a computer as having ordinance training in BFG's. Later on, when the advance team attack the colony, Todd proves to be a capable shot with the dropped rocket launchers the genetically-modified soldiers were wielding.
Nathan is taught by Todd how to kill a venomous snake soon after he arrives at the colony. Later on, after the colony has kicked Todd out, Nathan uses this lesson to kill a snake that was going to bite his father.
When he arrives on Arcadia, Todd immediately has to hold onto a pipe to avoid being blown away in the midst of a massive duststorm. In the battle against the bombardment troops, he comes prepared with equipment to tether himself down, while the soldiers who don't know what they're up against get blown away (and one gets impaled by flying debris).
The wreckage of a Spinner (from Blade Runner) can be seen in one of the piles of trash when Todd first arrives on the planet.
Todd's tattoos include a listing of all the major military campaigns he's participated in - the second-last entry on his arm reads, "Tannhäuser Gate". Additionally, his computer dossier lists the "Shoulder of Orion" campaign.
Eye Scream: Todd does this to Caine 607 during their first encounter.
Todd also stabs another Super Soldier through the eyepiece of his helmet. Later on, it's strongly implied that another Super Soldier is bitten in the eye by a snake.
Facial Markings: Todd and his fellow super-soldiers have tattoos detailing their major service history and personal information.
A Father to His Men: Todd to his unit. Once he reunites with them (as they're arming the Time Bomb), they immediately stop what they're doing, salute him and fall in line behind him. For the rest of the film, they follow his orders without question.
Guns Akimbo: Played With. Todd uses dual SMG's in part of the prelude. At a later point, it appears that he is using dual assault rifles to mow down several of the bombardment troops. The troops then launch a counterattack and move up on his supposed position (all while the guns are firing), only to find that he's rigged them up on the corpse of a dead soldier.
Hoist by His Own Petard: Mekum and his lieutenants are left behind on Arcadia, along with the Time Bomb he gleefully asked to be activated to destroy the colony.
Hollywood Healing: Todd falls from a great height, then gets dumped from a ship at a great height, then gets flung several yards into a set of steps during a windstorm, and is no worse for wear after a day of rest.
Slightly averted: Todd is dropped onto the planet by a ship, and is later told that they visit the planet every 20 or 30 days. When told this, it is the first time that he has left the safety of the settlement (so about 3 weeks of recuperation) and still isn't fully healed.
In the opening, the original soldiers are shown just charging into situations, making no attempt to find cover. Slightly justified in some situations, as most of the battles they are fighting aren't against trained military personnel.
Also discussed and averted later on. The next-gen soldiers are criticized as being powerful but untested, while the originals are battle-hardened and thus experienced. Indeed, the next-gen soldiers are summarily wiped out precisely because they are incapable of adapting to the guerrilla tactics of a single, well-armed, well-trained and experienced man.
Human Shield: Not so much averted as nuked from orbit. Todd excels in training by shooting through the "civilian" silhouette to hit the target behind, and then does it again for real in combat during one of the "flashback" missions.
I Like Those Odds: Mekum initially objects to Church's request for Todd to face Caine one-on-one. Mekum then asks Church to bring two more soldiers to face Caine, and Church replies that he likes the suggestion.
Infant Immortality: Adults are gunned down mercilessly during the advance team attack and bombardment siege, yet no child ever suffers more than being frightened. Averted in the opening sequence however, as a fat kid who can't keep up with the other child soldier trainees is summarily executed offscreen.
Implied to be averted in one of Todd's flashbacks, when he recalls an instance where he had been shooting civilians, and had stopped to reload. We see a young girl kneeling by the bodies of (presumably) her family, and Todd looking down (again presumably) at her expressionlessly as he reloads. Once he gets the new magazine inserted into his rifle, he pulls the trigger immediately, aiming at whatever he had been staring at the whole time.
Invulnerable Knuckles: Todd repeatedly beats a steel punching bag for several hours straight, so exhausted that he is barely able to stand, and only gets mildly bloodied knuckles for his effort.
Insistent Terminology: When the usually quiet Todd speaks to any of the adult colonists, he calls them "Sir" due to spending most of his life in a military environment.
Several of the bombardment troops chase Sandra and a group of children into a house while firing at them with miniguns and flamethrowers. One of the troops follows her up the stairs, and turns the corner to see her huddling with the group of children - and Todd wielding an RPG, which he promptly fires.
Played with at the end of the film. Todd and his troops leave Mekum and his two lieutenants on the planet with a Time Bomb set to detonate in a couple of minutes. The three officials run to the bomb and go to disarm it, with Mekum pulling away his female lieutenant when she can't remember the disarm code. Mekum enters the code and the machine seemingly acknowledges it...then detonates anyway.
Lock and Load Montage: After the battle with the advance team, Nathan walks in on Todd loading multiple weapons and gearing himself up for battle.
Manly Tears: After the junkyard community casts him out, Todd - trained from birth to kill, oblivious to what emotions are supposed to be - is surprised to find a tear sliding down his cheek. He wipes it and frowns in astonishment, not sure what to think of it.
Neck Snap: Todd does this to Caine at the end of their final confrontation.
Never Trust a Trailer: The official trailer included a short sequence that involved 20-30 starships doing battle around a planet. The final film features no such scene, and was apparently the remnant of a planned flashback that would have shown the Battle ofTannhäuser Gate.
Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: The only reason Todd survives his fall during the first encounter with Caine is due to him falling on the corpse of his fellow soldier. He simply goes unconscious from his injuries and is presumed to be dead.
No Social Skills: Sergeant Todd was raised from birth to be a completely obedient, emotionless soldier. When he is left for dead by his superiors he tries to reintegrate into a small community, but ultimately can't due to his underdeveloped social skills. He barely talks and except for some fleeting moments is a paragon of stoicism and actually dangerous to be around.
Not What It Looks Like: A serious example with Todd, Nathan, and the snake. Having failed to observe him teaching Nathan to kill it, only walking in when Todd is just standing there while it slithers up to Nathan, the colony decides he's too violent to fit in with them. Todd's own stoic nature and refusal to speak prevents him from rectifying the error.
Nuke 'em: What Mekum tries to do once the bombardment troops are wiped out.
Protagonist-Centered Morality: The two lieutenants were acting under duress (the Colonel had just murdered their Commanding Officer and was still armed) and had otherwise seemed to act as kindly to the Veterans as their ranks and positions allowed them. Todd throws them on to the wasteland to be nuked without a second thought.
Possibly Justified in that neither of them presented much of an objection to using the genetically-modified soldiers to wipe out what were originally identified as unarmed civilians.
Science Is Useless: Todd has the advantage against the genetically-modified soldiers due to his leadership and tactics gained from years of experience.
Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale: A distance example - thanks to the constraints of the action sequence, the film depicts the military ship Todd pilots passing a mountain and immediately appearing in space, thereby skipping most of the ascent through the stratosphere.
A military example. When the Next-Gens are being wiped out, Mekum assumes they are facing two whole divisions. A division is comprised of at least 10,000 men, which is overkill against two squads.
Actually, Mekum is commenting on the fact that they don't know how many soldiers they are facing after losing contact with all their men. He says that there could be a few divisions for all they know.
Third Time's The Charm: The first time Todd goes up against Caine, he gets the crap beaten out of him and is assumed to be dead. The second time, Todd destroys Caine's armored vehicle and assumes he's dead. The third time, Todd finally kills Caine after a protracted hand-to-hand battle.
Training the Peaceful Villagers: Subverted. Despite not having any opposition to fight against prior to the military landing on the planet, most of the adult villagers already have weapons and training (although they're barred by Todd from fighting the enemy because he considers it something he has to do himself).
Untrusting Community: Justified. Todd shows up beaten and bloodied and can't explain what he's doing on the planet (due to his training). He has no social skills whatsoever, instead has deadly reflexes which almost make him kill a random guy. This doesn't do him any favors when the locals kick him out for teaching Nathan how to kill a poisonous snake, though they come around later once he saves them from the advance force.
Villainous Breakdown: Mekum once his soldiers start getting gunned down like animals. Once they're all dead, he goes into full-on "save my own ass" mode.
Wasteland Elder: Played with. The elder seems to share leadership duties with Mace, and distrusts Todd. She never changes her stance on him, and ends up being killed during the attack by the advance team.
Worthy Opponent: When offered assistance in repelling the next-gen soldiers, Todd simply says "Soldiers deserve soldiers, sir." This is either a belief that soldiers deserve to be killed by other soldiers, not mere civilians, or that he didn't think the civilians had a chance in hell of winning.