Kurt Russell Starred In A 'Blade Runner' Sequel, And It Was The Trashiest Movie Of 1998

If you're a fan of Blade Runner, Ridley Scott's sci-fi masterpiece about a cop who hunts down androids in a gritty future Los Angeles, then you've probably seen Blade Runner 2049. But have you watched the 1998 Blade Runner sequel?

The movie Soldier, from director Paul W. S. Anderson and Blade Runner co-writer David Peoples, was envisioned as a "side-sequel" to Scott's movie. The adventures of Kurt Russell's Sgt. Todd were meant to exist in the same fictional universe, and the movie supposedly explored the lives of replicant soldiers in the off-world colonies. 

The result of that plan is a fascinating mess of a movie that involves a comically silent protagonist, a planet covered in trash, Gary Busey, and a villain who wets his pants. It's a bizarre sci-fi movie that could only come from a truly misguided notion. Just be thankful the Blade Runner side-sequel isn't the only continuation of the original film's story.

  • The Main Character Barely Talks

    Soldier might as well be a silent film, because its main character barely speaks throughout. Kurt Russell's super soldier Todd takes the notion of the "strong, silent type" to a whole new level. He only says 104 words in the entire movie, most of them in short sentences ending with "Sir." This weird narrative choice is especially painful because most of the movie takes place from his perspective.

    The audience never gets to hear what Todd thinks of anything, how he feels, or his motivations. Most of his backstory is delivered in an overabundance of montage scenes depicting his childhood, the wars he's fought in, and the people he's killed. If your main character can't express himself, your story has a problem.

  • It's Connected To 'Blade Runner' Through One Prop

    David Peoples, who co-wrote the script for Ridley Scott's Blade Runner with Hampton Fancher, envisioned Soldier as a spinoff or spiritual successor of sorts to the science fiction classic. The movie was supposed to take place in the same universe as Scott's movie, and show what was going on in the off-world colonies while Deckard was hunting down replicants back on Earth.

    But the only thing really connecting the two movies is the appearance of a single spinner hiding in the junkyard planet of Arcadia 234. If you don't remember, "spinners" are what they call the flying cars in Blade Runner. That's not doing much to establish a supposed shared universe.

  • The Visual Effects Are Terrible

    Yes, you can say it was 1998 and obviously movies don't always age well – but then you'll remember that the visually groundbreaking The Matrix arrived just a year later. Compared to the Wachowskis' visual feast, Soldier looks like a bad PC game. There's a reason why a movie about super soldiers in space barely has any shots of spaceships or even space. Not to rag on Paul W. S. Anderson's work, but his films always look like they were made on a tight budget. That is painfully true of Soldier.

  • The Main Setting Is A Junkyard Planet

    Few sci-fi settings are more depressing or drab than waste disposal planet Arcadia 234. Kurt Russell spends the entire movie surrounded by garbage and covered in thick orange dust. Even the settlement itself – which was built out of wreckage found on the planet's undoubtedly smelly surface – is rather dull. Overall, Soldier is a spectacularly ugly movie.

  • There Are Tons of Snakes For Some Reason

    What's up with all of the scenes featuring snakes in this movie? Three characters are threatened by snakes at different points in the movie, and one is even devoured by a whole slithering pile of the creatures. There's also an awkward scene in which Todd is trying to show little Nathan how to stand up to a snake and kill it. Todd instructs Nathan by pointing at the snake and slamming his shoe on the floor, because apparently he can't be bothered to say, "This is how you kill a snake, son."

    To be fair, the film's fascination with snakes might actually be another attempt to make a connection with Blade Runner. In Ridley Scott's movie, Deckard hunts down a replicant who has a fake pet snake. Is this Soldier's attempt to show that actual organic snakes still exist elsewhere in the galaxy?

  • It's Unclear Whether The Characters Are Replicants

    While screenwriter David Peoples intended for Soldier to exist in the same universe as Blade Runner, it is ultimately left unclear whether Todd and his comrades are replicants or humans. This cliffhanger isn't due to any sort of intriguing plot twist, though – the movie just never bothers to explain anything.

    Todd and the other soldiers are as obedient as robots, and Kurt Russell certainly acts as stiff as one, but the opening montage also shows the soldiers as orphaned infants. But the replicants in Blade Runner are manufactured as adults. The fact that Todd seems to have been born indicates that he's human. But knowing what Peoples intended with his script, Todd's true nature is left a bit unclear.