From the pen of David Webb Peoples, acclaimed scriptor of “Blade Runner,” “Unforgiven” and “Twelve Monkeys,” you’d expect something edgy, macabre and titillating. Unfortunately “Soldier” misses that mark by a disappointing berth. It’s a disarmingly, unimaginative sci-fi thriller that egregiously lifts plot elements from other genre hits (“Terminator,” “Road Warrior” and “Universal Soldier”) and even the western classic, “Shane.”
The futuristic, interplanetary showdown pits an outdated career commando (an awkward, but endearingly taciturn Kurt Russell) against his beefier and more lethal successor (a bald, buff Jason Scott Lee). In round one — a deadly training demonstration — Russell’s conditioned-from-birth sergeant gets his a*s handed to him by Lee’s genetically-engineered uber-trooper. Left for dead on a barren, deep-space junkyard, Russell is taken in by the planet’s raggedy inhabitants, who nurse him back to health and get him in touch with his human side. Of course there’s a round two, when Lee and his legion of robotic exterminators storm the planet, and Russell, recharged by his newfound emotion, goes on the warpath, proving that the older model can still blood let like there’s no tomorrow. To its credit, “Soldier” does offer a few good mano-e-mano, testosterone moments, and the set designs are ultra-cool, but there’s too little character development and no reason to care.