Soldier- From Script to Screen


‘…a worthwhile read for sci-fi or Western fans, as well as a testimony to Stewart’s obvious passion for this movie…’

A book review, for a change; Danny Stewart is a big fan of the Paul WS Anderson movie Soldier, and creating this volume of essays and interviews about this neglected film was clearly a labour of love for him. Of course, Soldier wasn’t a big deal back in the day; despite a healthy budget, a reliable box-office star, and a script from David Webb Peoples of Blade Runner fame, Soldier proved a little too dark and gnarly for 90’s audiences, but has built up a claim to cult status since then.

Stewart contacted me earlier this year, and I re-watched the film at his suggestion for a review here, and he’s right to feel that Soldier has been generally overlooked since release. With just over a hundred pages of text, Soldier- From Script to Screen does a neat job of tracing some of the creative forces behind the film; that means talking to Peoples, but also tracking down the crew and technicians who worked on the film. This in itself is of value for a film released long before the internet provided a repository of all possible information on every movie released, but Stewart also comes up with some essays about how Soldier relates to the Blade Runner universe, and also how Peoples and Anderson updated Western tropes in the manner of Outland.

So while Soldier connects up with classic Westerns like Shane and Unforgiven, there’s also a focus on the sci-fi world depicted; mention of Tannhauser Gates and other Blade Runner connections would be a far bigger deal in 2023 than back in 1998, and Stewart doesn’t let his obsession stop him from getting into the nitty-gritty of how Soldier predicts modern trends like outmoded technology; Todd 3465 (Kurt Russell) is presented as a breed of hired killer who has become redundant and gets dumped on an abandoned planet. He’s been raised as a soldier from a child, and the film doubles down on the notion of a man who is seeking validation of his own humanity, an inverted mirror image of Blade Runner’s Deckard.

As often with unauthorised books, there’s a few typos to navigate, and there’s also room for expansion here, with some key talent not included, but you’ve got to make the best of what you’ve got, particularly when you’re dealing with a film that hasn’t been well covered elsewhere. Soldier is a way better film than the initial reviews and audience reactions might suggest, and Stewart’s Soldier is a worthwhile read for sci-fi or Western fans, as well as a testimony to Stewart’s obvious passion for this movie.


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  1. My interest in this book is piqued, but not 22$ piqued.

    Soldier was an averagely bad movie built on the bones of a damn good movie, and I find that hard to forgive.

  2. The film itself was a weird throwback – solid enough, but could just as easily have been made sometime in the Eighties (I even saw a synopsis in a TV magazine in which the reviewer assumed it had been made some time in the Eighties). First film I saw Connie Nielsen in.

    • There you go. It was a throwback for sure, although I wish there were more films like it. And if People’s announced a film in the Blade Runner universe today, there’d be 2000 articles by the end of the week, whether it was good or not. But this isn’t the kind of film that gets much attention, and I’m happy to do my bit to put that right.

      And yes, Connie is in this, as are Wyatt Russell and Jason Issacs, quite a cast!

  3. Man, that cover just screams “indie” and shoddy. I know the ol’ saw about don’t judge a book by its cover, but we all know that’s pure bunkem.

    This book seems like it is aimed towards a VERY specific audience. I have to wonder if there’s enough of a demand to move the “wantometer” over at Amazon’s indie sales page.

    • I guess it’s tricky finding an image when the book isn’t licences by the studio. But something that is engaging about the book is that some of the interviewees don’t like the film. It makes this far more interesting than a sanitized studio product. How many people will want to read it? Unknown, but why not find out?

      • It’s not tricky at all. Just have to cough up some cash for some AI generated art using Midjourney or something. I suspect that is the problem.

        Do many people who work on movies actually enjoy it? Or is the process of creation what destroys the magic?

        While I’d much rather read this than watch some demon car baby movie, non-fiction really isn’t my thing.
        If there aren’t any Sandwurmz of Gorblaz IX, then I’m usually not interested…

        • Any mention of the great Tannhauser Gates always arouses my interest.

          Actually being on film sets for work is hard work, and rarely enjoyable. And there no certainty that the film is going to be worth your time. I’m usually there as a writer, which makes it even more uncomfortable. But a warts and all account is more interesting than a paid ad.

          What film would you write about? The rescuers down under?

          • What makes being a writer more uncomfortable than any other part?

            I’d want to write about a movie about peanut butter. I really like peanut butter…

            • What makes being a writer more uncomfortable than any other part?

              I liked the part where the director would ask “How long before catering gets here?” and, when told, pick up the script binder and start tearing pages out saying “OK, we’re not doing that . . . we’re not doing that . . .”

                • Nah, but I’ve been friends with writers and hung out with them on set. I remember that one incident and my friend saying that people who complain about there being holes in the plot don’t realize that there were no holes in the script as they wrote it. The holes are where the producer tore stuff out because they didn’t want to film it.

                  • Doesn’t surprise me. Everybody in the movie industries are egomaniacal jackasses, liars, scumbags and those are the good attributes

            • You get huckled off set to change things, and everyone you meet has a great idea that might have worked if it came up six months earlier…

              No, which EXISTING movie would you write a book about….

              • So, bunch of Tuesday morning quarterbacks eh? I’m not surprised.

                Hmmm, that’s a toughie. I think I’d have to go with Richie Rich….

                • Good choice. I want 70 thousand words on Ritchie Rich by lunchtime tomorrow. And not the same word 70 thousand times, right?

        • I agree that the cover is a bit grim, but I wonder if Midjourney is the answer. Perhaps Riders would know. The thing is, you still get into copyright issues even with AI generated art. Christopher Paolini’s new one riled up quite a bit of controversy recently with regard to that. So you’d think you could ask the AI to give you Kurt Russell looking like he does in the movie doing something, but already you’d be in trouble.

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