Even the most precursory glance at his extensive film work, clearly shows that Mario Van Peebles has sadly never really made it as big in Hollywood as he deserves. Up until now for instance, his most well known roles have been the (enjoyably OTT) sorcerer Kane in Highlander 3 and as effective fish chow in the utterly risible Jaws: The Revenge.
The majority of his work tends to have been low key, direct to video fodder which is a real shame, as in my opinion, Peebles is a decent actor with a lot of unfulfilled potential. For instance, I know not whether he ever auditioned for the part, but I would be willing to bet that Peebles would have made a much better Blade than Wesley 'Pay my taxes?!!!' Snipes.
Unfortunately, it has to be said that the film reviewed here is hardly likely to help Peebles career any either. In fact, I am slightly puzzled as to why he would have ever taken such a role in the first place (the money was good perhaps?) Peebles plays the eponymous hero of the title a state of the art, cybernetic weapon who it turns out is struggling with the contradictory nature of the callus orders given unto him by his superiors. On one such mission Solo deliberately sabotages the objective in order to spare some innocent civilians, much to the anger of his commanders who subsequently order him to be decommissioned. However, getting wind of this, Solo decides that self preservation is of the highest order and goes on the run, hotly pursued by a relentless, sadistic colonel (the ever superb William Sadler) who has a particular grudge against what Solo represents.
Ending up in a small South American village, Solo is gradually befriended by the locals and begins to learn the nature of humanity. In addition, he serves as their protector from a ruthless gang of bandits. Of course, things don't stay happy for long and the army eventually locate him whereupon much explosive action ensues. Finally, Solo discovers that he is in fact not the only one of his kind when another android is sent to destroy him. Needless to say, there can be only one winner
Once again, I do wonder why Peebles chose to play such a role; As a guide, if you've ever watched (the gorgeous!) Jerry Ryan in Star Trek: Voyager as Seven Of Nine, then you'll be able to clearly picture exactly how Peebles plays his part. Certainly, the role hardly pushes him as an actor in any way. On the other hand, Peebles did work himself into awesome physical shape for the role and apparently undertook some arduous military/combative style training regimes in order to capture the action authentically (although it has to be said that said scenes have not been exactly well handled by the director here).
Whilst Peebles may not get to display at least his acting muscles, as mentioned before, Sadler is excellent as the psychopathic Colonal and it's also great to see an early role here from none other than Adrian Brody of The Pianist fame.
At the end of the day, if approached in the right frame of mind, this proves to be a fairly enjoyable, if low key flick, albeit one that seems to take itself perhaps a little too seriously for my liking.
Nonetheless, for less discriminating action junkies and fans of the whole android sub genre, this is a harmless enough way to spend an hour and a half.
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