Cast: Mario Van Peebles, William Sadler, Barry Corbin, Adrien Brody, Seidy Lopez, Abraham Verduzco, Farnecio de Bernal…
Writers: Screenplay by David Corley, based on the novel “Weapon” by Robert Mason.
Director: Norberto Barba
Genre: Action (with some Science Fiction elements)
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Released: August 23, 1996
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Let’s Be Real
I’m going to be straight with you, my dear readers: this movie is not great. It has its impressive moments, but overall… it’s kind of cheesy. As with Bullet, though, I think it may have impressed me more upon its release in 1996.
Solo is basically about a government project (also called SOLO) to develop a cyborg super soldier. They can send this robot soldier into more dangerous situations than a human, as he can be programmed to take on any task, and because there is no fear of death.
The cyborg soldier, whom they name Solo (yes, it’s the name of the project and the character) has a perceived flaw, however. Killing makes him “feel bad.” Solo (Mario Van Peebles) believes endangering innocent bystanders/”non-combatants” is wrong. This is something the military officials in charge of the program did not count on.
Solo ends up befriending a group of “non-combatants” in a village and helps them learn to defend themselves. In exchange, they provide him with electronics to keep his power charged. He learns more about human nature along the way. Meanwhile, the leaders of the program are losing their minds trying to reign Solo in.
Adrien’s Role: Dr. Bill Stewart
Something I noted while analyzing Adrien’s performance in this film (as is the point of this blog), is that the aforementioned moral compass Solo is guided by closely mirrors that of his creator.
Dr. Bill Stewart (Brody) is a soft-hearted scientist who cares for the cyborg soldier he’s created as if he was his child or brother. Everyone else treats Solo as a weapon, a machine, even a mistake. Bill is easily the most ethical person involved in the project. It’s a great role for Adrien to play: humor, brains and heart. He did quite well here. The bond between Solo and Bill is my favorite part of the film.
Obvious Villian is Obvious
Col. Frank Madden (William Sadler) seems to embody the polar opposite: a total lack of moral compass. He is guided only by his own desire to be in charge. This becomes even more evident when he is sent on a mission to retrieve Solo after he goes rogue.
Without giving too much away, it becomes clearer and clearer what Madden is about. The story then becomes about the classic good vs. evil battle that drives so many films.
It’s worth the watching to see Brody and Sadler’s performances (Barry Corbin is quite enjoyable, also) and to revel in some of the more cheesy moments. An example: Solo learning how to laugh. It’s hilariously cringeworthy.
Movie Overall: 4/10
Brody Performance: 7/10