The 1998 science fiction action film Soldier is an interesting obscure gem of a movie. Produced on a big budget with high-end action sequences and both a dystopian and a post-apocalyptic production design. However, most interesting is the in-story universe that has some very particular background details that need to be examined a bit more closely than a casual viewing would typically encourage in order to be noticed. It is with these details that some compelling concerns about eugenics, the dangers of transhumanism, and even the reluctant hero can be seen in this overlooked and genre-wise quite unconventional movie.
In what looks like the somewhat near future, there’s a new major armed forces organization in the US, and possibly also in Canada and Mexico that could have all be joined into or annexed into some sort of confederation. This implication can be gauged from the name of this military formation, the American Forces. The emblem for this army includes both the English and Spanish name, Fuerzas Americanas, however like most telling background details in this film, it isn’t pushed or even mentioned in dialog. The characters treat it as an established and entrenched reality, thus it’s to an inquisitive audience to notice.
Eugenics: The Adam Project
At the start of the movie we see infants being tagged at a birthing ward. The man tagging them wears a uniform and armed guards stand nearby. This is start of a eugenics program, called “The Adam Project,” to bring children up from birth to be soldiers. Training essentially starts at day one as the soldiers go on to show no knowledge of life outside of their elite unit. The main character, Todd, sums up the whole of his feelings in a later scene, “fear and discipline.” This is confirmed by the “rules for life” that are partially heard in the background as the child soldiers are forced to watch a boar be torn up by aggressive dogs.
The list is a supplement graphic that comes with a home media release of the film. Again just like the film-world details, it’s just there to be noticed, but never pushed or explicitly brought up. The aggressive dogs, very likely a pilot project to the bigger and much ambitious endeavor of the Adam Project, are a smaller scale version of the product that Todd and his fellow cadets are to become: obedient, aggressive, unquestioning, and pretty much all the soldiers’ rules listed can also be made to match the dogs’ behavior. This becomes even more apparent as the training proceeds. Todd puts together a puzzle in record time, the shape is a pyramid, which is an old symbol of exclusivist hierarchy in one of its most popular interpretations. In putting it together, he is effectively shown to be working to uphold such a system.
Next the increasingly hardened cadets indicate their obedience to the rules as dummy targets are shot at with innocents being avoided, but only to save ammo, because if an enemy hides behind an innocent then the innocent is shot down to so that the enemy behind them may be killed. Rules 3, 5, 7, & 8 obeyed to a T.
The training then goes onto reflect the real world experience that the soldiers have. In one scene Todd is shown shooting through an innocent women to kill the enemy soldier who has taken her hostage. Otherwise, he would have ignored her. This montage scene of Todd’s unit’s combat experience is filled with many interesting details and implications. There is a whole lot of war going on in various places around the globe. We already have some compelling details to show that the American continent may have some sort of new super state on it with its own military force – American Forces/Fuerzas Americanas – but what is there to say that there are no other super states that have formed? And that these are all in a perpetual war deadlock, hence all the fighting all over the world? And that this context created a suitable space for an idea like the Adam Project? This dystopian subtext is chillingly Orwellian as presented in George Orwell’s book 1984, where Soviet-style militarized mega-states fight a perpetual war, but don’t achieve any meaningful victories. There’s just a perpetual death match that feeds the military-industrial-political complex.
At the end of this scene we see a dossier and status screen for Todd, which includes the various battles that he’s fought in. Let’s take a close look at it. “Montana Insurrection” – Montana is a US federal state, why were the “American Forces” deployed there? Well insurrection of course! But what compelled citizens to go through with an insurrection in the first place? Next, “Bolivian Coup” – knocking off foreign heads of state and putting in puppets has been a US covert ops basic play since the early part of the Cold War in the 20th Century, now it seems they just go in with guns blazing. “Battle of Shanghai” – that’s quite far from the American continent, so some of that mega-state rivalry seems to be at hand. “Shoulder of Orion” – this a reference to the film Bladerunner that was written by the same screenwriter, David Peoples, and it is one of the more telling details. In the aforementioned film, androids are made to serve humans and fight wars for them, and one android character recalls “attack ships on fire off the Shoulder of Orion.” So the Adam Project could be an early step in the direction of creating cyborgs and/or androids. Lastly, “Nibian Moon Campaign” – this just further confirms that these wars happen beyond Earth. Moons are often barren and rocky, making them prime places for mining colonies, thus hypothetical space empires will, no doubt, fight over them, especially once they burned through all of their home world’s resources.
One final point here is the name “Adam Project.” This is a reference to the Jewish (and Judeo-Christian) creation myth in which YHWH molds man in his image from mud and clay and calls the first of these “Adam.” A version of this may then be repeated as a ritual by an appropriately elder rabbi to create a golem. And what do we have next?^
Golems: Designer Killers
The military’s super soldier project has gone to the next level: from breeding via eugenics to genetic design and wholesale creation. The officer in charge of training the new unit, Colonel Mekum says, “They’re practically manufactured” and “the mind controls the body, after all. And we’re doing such wonderful things with the mind.” This amounts to factory-based creation of obedient and hard hitting soldiers who don’t even have to be trained to obey, they are simply made that way. The self-sustainability of a strong organic body and the programming of a robot amount to what is essentially a transhumanist realization of Jewish golem lore.
It’s important to step back here and more closely examine the term “eugenics” and see why Todd’s unit is a creation of eugenics, while the new soldiers are beyond it. Eugenics is not simply selective breeding, it is a scientifically motivated political order that seeks to make it expedient for a race to out-breed other races. The “eu” in the word “eugenics” is the same root as in the word “euthanasia” and this word translates to “easy death.” There is no positive moral connotation implied and that’s why the original concept of moral government was called “aristocracy” not “eucracy.”
Eugenics is the goal of all ethnocentric movements, since these all fall in line with the idea (whether they voice it explicitly or not) that civilization has come to obstruct natural selection and thus pressures must be artificially exerted so as to bring this natural selection back, yet at the same time civilization must not be toppled, but even strengthened. The result of this is ethnocentric and apartheid states, such as Israel, where a few “chosen” by eugenics (YHWH by another name) rule over the goyim, just as the herder does over his cattle. No surprise then that the world’s currently most murderous army has seen a high demand for its sperm from the “chosen” for whom it upholds apartheid.
“The differences between Jews and Gentiles are not religious, historical, cultural or political. They are, rather, racial, genetic and scientifically unalterable. The one group is at its very root and by natural constitution ‘totally evil,’ while the other is ‘totally good.’” ~Rabbi Saadya Grama, Romemut Yisrael Ufarashat Hagalut (“Israel’s Majesty & the Question of Exile”)
This fanatical obsession with “otherness” has led to Jews and those compatible with their ways of thinking to declare things such as “race war” and the like. Of course, the Jews being dishonest about their racism – unlike Gentiles who mostly just admit it – claim to be champions of diversity and tolerance and all those liberal, feel good talking points, while quietly working their goals. Gentile racists see this and lash out at the hypocritical Jews, as well as at other “others,” and thus the race war can be started by dupes, while the Jews further their goal and claim innocence at the same time.
“While all other religions endeavor to explain to the people by symbols the metaphysical significance of life, the religion of the Jews is entirely immanent and furnishes nothing but a mere war-cry in the struggle with other nations.” ~Arthur Schopenhauer
Back to the movie, Todd’s unit, commanded by Captain Church – a symbolic name – is representative of traditionalism that has slipped far enough into eugenics. They may be only soldiers, bred and born to fight and die, but who says that theirs is the only eugenics project going on? In all likelihood the mega-state elites have their own breeding program, something like Chabad-Lubavitch, to ensure a “pure” and obedient Politburo. It’s a Brave New World. And this brings us to Caine.
No longer just bred selectively, therefore not eugenics, but rather made and configured on the genetic level in the test tube and then gestated in an incubator. This is exactly what happens in the book Brave New World and also in the film Bladerunner, and this latter example is more relevant to this movie as test tube breeding doesn’t seem to have yet dominated society in this world, but is merely being used to create efficient slaves, while the elite can still enjoy their natural tendencies and this puts it right in line with Zionism which seeks to subjugate the goyim, all non-Jews.
“Non-Jews have no compassion by nature and should be killed, in order to limit their tendencies”
——————~Rabbi Yitzak Shapira, Torat Hamelech (“The King’s Torah”)
If non-Jews are to be killed, who will do the work once they are gone? That will be the chore of golems, such as Caine and his new military unit that is lead by Mekum, who’s played by Jewish actor Jason Isaacs. Mekum boasts about his soldiers and on the surface they seem to be better in every way. They shoot with greater accuracy, even on sustained full-automatic. They run at a faster pace than Church’s soldiers, finishing well ahead in a 15 mile run even after starting quite late. And finally, Caine manages to defeat three of the original soldiers in hand-to-hand combat, killing two and wounding Todd, who’s thought to be dead. Even after all of that exertion Caine doesn’t even show signs of sweating, further indicating a redesign of human biology or even a bolstered imitation.
During the previously mentioned fight that Caine wins, Todd manages to scar Caine by tearing one of his eyes out, much to Mekum’s anger. He gives Caine a run down on how expensive it’s to maintain him as a soldier and then tells the rest of the unit that now “all he can do is walk point, and take the first hit” due to a lack of depth perception. Yet, later we see that all the new golem super soldiers basically do that, showing no tactical ingenuity in battle. They have been made to obey, and that’s just what they do. If no one’s there to give them very specific orders, they just run on a mediocre autopilot. This grand posturing and rather empty show of power is even seen in Mekum himself who seems to have never lead a unit in combat. In a scene where he’s outlining a “biannual security sweep” mission across several planets he mentions having a chance of seeing his new soldiers in a “non-training environment.” On top of this Mekum always wears what looks to be a dress uniform, not the field uniform that Church wears. Thus, it’s pretty obvious that he’s pretty much never experienced nor led a military operation.
Additionally, this scene refers back to the Orwellian theme of super states in perpetual war, as this “security sweep” echoes the old naval patrols of imperial waters with imperial space being patrolled. The war for resources on Earth has spread far out beyond the human home world of Earth, just like the empires of the past had stretched their pursuit of material riches into other continents.^
After the hangar fight with Caine, Todd is thought to be dead and is sent out on a waste disposal ship that dumps him on a planet serving as a junkyard. From this, further details of the situation on Earth can be inferred. Namely, there is so much refuse being produced that there’s no room on Earth for it, and no technology has been developed to recycle the massive amount of trash buildup. As Todd walks amidst the heaps of garbage, a US Navy aircraft carrier is prominently visible, it’s can also be seen on the film’s poster. At the time of the film’s production, the US Navy’s aircraft carriers were the largest operational war machines and in this future, human war fighting capability has increased so much that they’ve haven’t even been scrapped, just tossed away. This is probably not a realistic depiction of technological progress, which tends to be gradual and technological systems see refitting and upgrades before being scrapped, but for the purposes of showing the film’s world, it’s an apt metaphor for an early 21st century audience.
Wandering the planet, Todd sees what look to be some humans and follows them to some sort of makeshift town. He still does not reveal himself as his training to treat everything other than his military unit as potentially hostile remains strong. However, when an unexpected gust of wind knocks him down from his hiding position and reveals him to the townspeople, Todd gets something that he never expected: compassion.
The people that he is taken in by, a small community of villagers, are an echo of what he has seen before during his war experiences. Todd saw innocents intermittently throughout battlefields and his service record suggests, due to his extensive on Earth military service, that this is a regular thing. However he never knew quite what to make of it. In one war zone, he saw a young girl whose family had been gunned down around her, and Todd has just killed those responsible, though his interaction with her is merely a brief stare as he reloads his assault rifle before he pushes further through an urban inferno. Yet, there seemed to be a hint of curiosity on Todd’s part in that scene, thus Todd’s normally hyper-focused battle-oriented mentality encountered a vacuum. He feels that he must do something, he just doesn’t know what. Compassion was never a part of his life, yet the absence of it seems to affect him, even if in a small way.
Now in the village, Todd is hosted by a couple, Mace and Sandra, who have a young son, Nathan. Todd accompanies Mace on a regularly done salvage run into the massive garbage heaps to see what they find for their meager town. During this excursion, Todd’s strength proves key in pulling in a fellow townsperson during one of the planet’s sudden and brief wind storms. He also helps Sandra prepare food and learns some gardening, which is this community’s main source of sustenance. From foraging for supplies to a bit of agrarian autarky, Todd’s life of official routine and tight supply lines of a rigorous military life and war campaigns are changed dramatically. He is able to finally relax from his training program and enjoy a bit of the bucolic life. However, this causes him to encounter another vacuum, one in which old war memories and night terrors quickly fill.
Todd resumes a training routine that mainly consists of swinging out stress into a punching bag. At one point, Todd is totally overcome by his mental flashes of war and accidentally nearly kills a fellow town resident. He is struggling to integrate into the new relaxed and cheerful lifestyle. This also happens when the townspeople celebrate Christmas, which for Todd is yet another contrast with strict military scheduling and routine. This version of Christmas seems to be free of the old dogmas, and instead focuses on a community meal, gift sharing, and some informal music and dance. With there being no retail on this garbage planet, the implication is that gifts are custom-made handcrafts from the materials that are regularly found foraging. Thus, we have agrarian autarky and a non-commercialized community-based, not traditional family-based, version of Christmas… this is looking all quite good. Though, Todd can’t seem to take it in, yet at least. He slips out unnoticed and observes the townsfolk from a skylight, giving him a guardian angel-like appearance. The skylight will come back into play later.
Earlier, when gardening with Sandra, a snake appeared amidst the plant rows and Sandra immediately beheaded it with her spade. It’s only a small interpretive stretch in seeing this brief moment as a sly ridicule of the Judaic Garden of Eden encounter with the snake: here the woman acts out of knowledge not ignorance and there is no exclusive domain of a creator deity, rather a sublimation of nature and human living. Sandra killed the snake since it’s a known poisonous species and an earlier attack from one has left her son, Nathan, mute and timid. A second snake appears later one morning soon after the Christmas party. This time, it’s inside the house and seemingly poised to attack Nathan. Todd having learned the danger of the snake, passes Nathan one of his army boots and demonstrates with the other how to stomp it. The boy is frozen in fear and the snake springs up at him with Todd catching it. He then throws it back to the ground and motions again for Nathan to stomp it with the boot, however Mace comes in at this point and kills it himself. Both Mace and Sandra are shocked at what Todd tried to do and have him voted out of the community for failing to integrate.
Todd sets out along a similar path that initially led him to the town. He makes camp and sits alone experiencing tears for the first time, which surprises him. He has learned enough about compassion to know what it’s like when the compassion is gone, he has understood, at least in part, that mental vacuum which had briefly stumped his gaze earlier on the battlefield when he saw the young girl.
Next morning, back in the town, as Mace and Sandra sleep, a third snake appears. It slithers up onto their bed, however it’s pulled back and stomped by Nathan using one of his father’s boots. Mace and Sandra and shocked again and realize that Todd, for all of his social awkwardness, was actually the first person to ever inspire Nathan since the boy suffered a snakebite and it directly led to Nathan overcoming of what must have been one of the main factors of his timidity. Mace succinctly admits, “we voted wrong” suggesting the folly of mass-opinion based decision making. He heads out to find Todd knowing that he must have stayed closed to the road and safety wire for the windstorms.^
The Reluctant Hero
Mace finds Todd at his make shift camp site and essentially repeats to Todd what he told Sandra, but just then a large vessel passes overheard. Not the trash dumpers that appeared before, but Mekum’s unit ready to perform their so called “security sweep.” As Todd and Mace run back to the village, one of the vehicles, driven by Caine, spots them and fires fatally wounding Mace. Todd manages to hide them both as Caine’s unit of golems passes by heading to what can only be the village. Mace uses his last gasps to plead for Todd to go help his fellow townsfolk.
Inside the vessel that landed, Church and Mekum are informed that two targets were killed and that the deployed unit has spotted the village. Church, holding the rank of captain, asserts that if there are civilians they must be protected. But, Mekum asserts that the planet is officially barren, thus no one should be here in the first place and so anyone encountered can be killed off, which is an argument closely echoes Israel’s attitudes to the West Bank & Gaza. In fact, the operation on the planet that Mekum is conducting resembles the Zionist notion of “mowing the lawn” – a regular live fire test of IDF weapons on civilians in Gaza, the herder trimming his herd.
The battle starts well for the new golem super soldiers as they unload a barrage of high end firepower on the comparatively poorly armed villagers. The initial battle consists of mini-guns, flamethrowers, rocket artillery, and assault rifles going against pistols and small rifles. However, then they get the one thing they aren’t truly prepared for: capable resistance.
Todd jumps down through a skylight, the opposite direction of how he had left the Christmas party earlier, and takes out the flamethrower-wielding soldier. This connection the earlier scene, as well as the framing of the shot as Todd jumps down through the glass with his coat fanning out, gives him a warrior angel appearance. The Christmas decorations are also visible in this scene, thus Todd’s fight is shown to be beyond mere materialist interpretation. Todd unleashes a vicious maelstrom of violence against the attackers, however it’s key to note that it’s preventative violence – Todd only kills those who harm the innocent.
Mekum’s soldiers show virtually no squad tactics during battle. They walk around like FPS game enemies with poor AI, albeit formidable armament. When weapons jam, they seem to be at loss when it comes to getting into cover so as to clear the jam. Aiming seems to be all well on the training course, but in battle there’s little to none. Suspecting ambushes is also beyond these golems. While all these points may be a criticism against the movie in that is seems to provide bland bad guys, there is actually a point being made: perfection in the lab far from perfection in practical use. An analogous example would be body building – demanding a precise gym routine – vs. training for a pentathlon – demanding both gym and outdoors training. Body builders may be packing muscle, however their sculpted image is going on borrowed time and eventually the flab catches up with them after most of them stop their finely tuned indoor routine and retire. On the other hand, endurance athletes, such a pentathlon competitors, build up a much healthier muscle mass and metabolism, the latter being key, thus their body can handle changes in training routine. Ergo: golem super soldiers are the body builders, Todd is the pentathlon athlete. Transhumanism is literally “body building” in a lab not the gym. And while Todd may be the product of eugenics, at least he attained his condition – mentally and physically – thus, despite his weaknesses and the fact that he had no way to develop his own aptitudes, he will always be more capable in a fluid situation.
A blunt example of this is the first time Todd sees the oncoming wind gust right after he arrives on the junk planet. He grabs a hold of a pole, turns his head and shuts his eyes until the wind passes. During the final battle, the golems hear and see the oncoming windstorm, but they hesitate and stare until it’s too late. The wind sweeps them up and away. For all of their transhumanist design and “perfection” the subtleties of the human intuition cannot be recreated in a lab. They simply must be allowed to grow like crops under the sun.
The only exception to this golem idiocy is Caine 607, the super soldier whose eye Todd ripped out earlier. Caine is the leader in the field of the golem soldiers and he appears to be much more intuitive than the others. On a story level, Todd’s fight with Caine provides a nice character arc as he overcomes his previous defeat. During the first fight in the hangar, Todd had tried and failed to break Caine’s neck, though now Todd manages to finish Caine off in just that way. However, the start of this final duel is even more telling about Todd’s transformation. Previously, and throughout the entire movie, Todd’s dialog was just laconic responses to questions. When Mace apologized to Todd for his expulsion, Todd didn’t say anything, since he wasn’t asked anything. He simply didn’t know how to respond. He didn’t even give a nod. However, right before the duel with Caine, as Todd is leading the villagers out of their destroyed home, he’s also carrying Nathan, which is another new display of compassion from him, but in those moments Todd senses that there’s still another enemy to fight nearby and that it must be Caine. Right here, Todd utters his first bit of dialog that’s on his own initiative. He says, “take him” to Sandra as he hands her Nathan. Thus, his first bit of self-willed speech is paired with an act of compassion for a child.
Todd is breaking out of his previous programming. In this final fight scene Todd is also tired from his just previous battle, so how does he win? Previously, right before the hangar fight, Captain Church had asked, “What about spirit?” Referring to a soldier’s morale. In that scene Todd lost since he was merely following orders, there was no greater purpose just obedience, however now Todd has realized a greater purpose to being a soldier.
A quote from the trailer conveys this as well, “For this soldier, it may be too late to feel human, but it’s never too late to be a hero.” Todd becomes the Reluctant Hero.
This is more in line with the ideals of militarism as described by Plato in The Republic than the typically satirical version we usually get shown in the current climate that’s dominated by politically correct pacifists on the left and orcish brutes on the right, even if the latter does use (read: misuse) militarist symbolism. Liberalism fails in that it asserts that power itself corrupts, whereas Plato offered the more poignant observation that it’s desire for power that corrupts. Todd rises to a position of power in the film, not because be wants to. No, he rises to it, because he feels compelled to take on a responsibility. It’s Mekum who merely wants to show off his power. He doesn’t even seem to have a sure sense of purpose in the scene when he outlines the “security sweep.” Mekum even hesitates in answering some rather basic questions about the operation that are asked by Captain Church, meaning he’s only now considering them, because he was never concerned with a well executed military operation, just a show of power.^
Old Order Destruction
Mekum, seeing that his men have been defeated, orders the deployment of a “planet buster” bomb to cover the tracks of his failure to deal with the “significant military presence” as he had put it. He must have some really bad intel on the situation and appears as combat-situation-aware from his command position as his golems on the battlefield. The planet buster scenario seems much like Israel’s Samson Option, which aims to destroy every European capital city in Israel’s missile range should the world order go against their favor.
Church insists that at least the support unit, Todd’s former comrades, which has been relegated to logistics duties, should be able to get back to the ship before the planet is destroyed. Mekum then kills Church over this being concerned with only his own skin. This brief confrontation caused enough delay for the unit to return, now with Todd whom they instantly recognized as a former comrade, and they promptly throw Mekum off the ship. The villager refugees board as well and the ship takes off leaving Mekum with his “Samson Option” and all the hell fire it brings.
The planet is destroyed and Todd, now reunited with his former comrades, leads the refugees to the Trinity Moons. This had been their original destination, before they crashed onto the junk planet. Thus, Todd’s personal journey is effectively now paired with theirs. The final image is Todd holding Nathan, again, and showing him the direction of the Trinity Moons.^
There are some direct Soviet references in the film. First, the American Forces/Fuerzas Americanas logo contains a large red star. Second, the assault rifle Todd fights with in the montage scene of various battles and in his flashbacks uses an AK-47 magazine. Third, the large vehicles that Mekum’s soldiers deploy with are armed with machine guns that are US Army Browning machine guns that have been refitted to look like Soviet-made DShk machine guns to go along with the symbolism in the film. Fourth, during the final fight Caine picks up a sickle to kill Todd. The way this plays out is that Todd seems to bluff Caine into picking it up, and it is in this moment that Todd gets the final upper hand and wins the duel. Communism, it’s a literal dead end.
There is religious symbolism in the film, too, albeit a non-traditionalist interpretation. First, Captain Church says, during the “security sweep” briefing, that civilians should be helped if found on the planet. He also asks “what about spirit?” in the hangar fight scene. He is ultimately a flawed character with some redeemable features that ends up being killed by the character associated with Judaic and Communist symbolism. Second, Christmas is celebrated in a folkish way and, as previously mentioned, this ties in with Todd’s guardian angel symbolism. Third, character who oversaw the voting out of Todd is also seen to hurry the village children along to school in another scene, thus she seems to be linked with a conservative traditionalism. She also says, “God help us” as the golem soldiers show up and start firing on the village and she’s the first to be killed. Like Communism, traditionalism also reaches a dead end. Fourth, there’s a quick shot of a cross grave marker impaling a golem super soldier when their unit is caught in the windstorm. This is right after Todd ambushed the unit with an improvised explosive set up. According to Adolf Hitler, “God helps only those who are prepared and determined to help themselves“ and Todd is definitely prepared and determined, while his enemies are only the latter.
The soldiers in Todd’s first unit show some emotions, albeit repressed, with small flinches in stressful situations. This most apparent when they are told that they don’t have to salute any more, since they aren’t considered real soldiers anymore. This is strongly indicative that they personally attached some level of idealism and sense of duty to their military service, despite being trained only in obedience. The golem soldiers show none of this and are even shown to fight with masks, further diluting their individual identity. Caine wears no combat mask/helmet combination, but he is still expressionless aside from pain flinches.
Finally, there is some of the obligatory “evil Nazi” notions, though they’re remarkably limited considering the extent of the thematically linked Soviet, Zionist, and Owellian symbolism. The American Forces/Fuerzas Americanas emblem also has a lightning bolt with two bends, giving it the appearance of a double extended Sig rune. Todd’s early cadet rank insignia is a single lighting bolt/Sig rune visible as the camera pans down from his face to his name patch in the scene where the dogs kill the caged boar. Obligatory surface details underscored by the much more prevalent themes examined here.^