Universal Soldier, Cold War-style
For a straight-to-home-formats release, Ice Soldiers engages with a reasonably decent Universal Soldier-derived premise and suitably creepy Arctic setting, but fails to capitalise on either.The story attempts to ostensibly ground itself in fact, taking us back to the Cuban Missile Crisis, and telling us that a small Russian plane crashed in the Arctic, leaving three bodies in the ice to be found by scientists at a local outpost. After a slaughter – and a rape – the frozen soldiers once again disappear into the tundra, only to be discovered half a Century later by another group, this time with one member taking a particular interest in the genetically modified super-soldiers.This could have so very easily made for a dark and moody Universal Soldier rip-off, with an unusual setting, surprisingly decent scoring, and with Dominic Purcell taking on suitably ambiguous hero duties, but the filmmakers simply don’t follow things through to their natural conclusions.
Purcell isn’t really leading action hero calibre. He was woefully miscast as the villain – Dracula, no less – in the disappointing third Blade instalment, and briefly held his own for several seasons of the paper-thin but surprisingly popular Prison Break, before settling in on a slow glide into STV hell. In Ice Soldiers he doesn’t offer anything you could even remotely call acting, but, had this gone down the full-tilt UniSol route, he wouldn’t have needed to.
With mood and music in place, all that was needed was some decent action.
Unfortunately, there’s simply no action on offer. From the brief opening slaughter to the subsequent conflicts – including a couple of lame fights and an uneventful snowmobile chase – the film falls down at every possible opportunity on the action front. And, arguably, it was the only thing that they had to get right. Every single moment where it could have pumped some adrenaline into the proceedings, it instead attempts to simply define the word anticlimactic.
It’s a shame. The moody, atypical setting – reminiscent of The Thing – and the frozen super-soldier premise could have made for a decent enough low budget actioner, but the film instead sleeps its way through as just passably entertaining, average in every possible way, and seemingly incapable of following through with the promise of action on the ice.
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