Monday, February 8, 2010

So Low

solo11 Solo is the perfect weapon, a machine created to do deeds that any normal human cannot accomplish, Solo is a super soldier…with a heart of gold. And to the U.S military, it’s a big no-no to have the ultimate killing machine being able to make decisions that can jeopardize missions, due to a conscience. Deciding to fix the problem, the military think it best if Solo were shut down for some reprogramming. However, Solo ain’t down with that and being programmed to preserve himself, he jacks a helicopter and fly's away to safety. He is chased down by the military, but after Solo crashes into the side of a mountain, they lose sight of him as he escapes into the vast surrounding jungle.      

How on Earth 1996’s Solo (directed by Norberto Barba) ever received a theatrical release is beyond me. I’m not saying it’s a bad movie, well, it is a bad movie depending on your taste, but it reeks of direct to video, yet it was released in theaters. It speaks to no one that is not a hardcore fan of mindless action movies, anyone else, would scoff at the sheer lack of original story telling involved and the silliness of it all. Solo is a menagerie of thesolo1 action film’s and tries to deliver multiple messages as well as tries to be too many things at once.

Solo befriends a young kid and that whole storyline would seem to be tailor made to make this PG-13 movie, an action movie for the whole family. That’s not something that really works for adult action film fans as seen with movies like Robocop 3. Even Terminator 2 brought in the kid aspect, which worked great when I was young, but that film hasn’t aged well for me and I have a much lesser appreciation for it in my adult years. I think a lot of it has to do with how the Rambo films became socially acceptable for children maybe. Though, the Rambo movies never catered to kids and always remained rated R film’s with a copious amount of violence and sweat.

solo3With the young kid that Solo meets, comes an entire village who take Solo in after he is found hurt and low on battery. The villagers are plagued, or better yet, enslaved by a militant group of guys that do bad stuff. What kinda bad stuff do they do? I didn’t catch that part, but they have automatic weapons and speak a foreign language, so they must be bad. The villagers see a chance to be liberated by Solo and he is soon thought to be an ancient savior sent to help them through their dark times. Solo teaches the villagers how to fight for themselves and in return, they let him use their generator to recharge his battery.

solo7Are you won over yet?! Maybe the idea of Solo, the leader of the villagers, wearing a burlap vest without a shirt underneath will sell you?! No?! How about the cute young female villager looking to get a “charge” from Solo? Still no? Maybe the military teaming up with the bad news militant group to take out Solo catches your attention? No? Really?! What if I were to tell you Solo was played by MVP? You know, Mario Van Peebles?! Now I gotcha! MVP is one of those guys that is very hard to put a finger on…he comes from the loins of the well respected, DIY creator of Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, Melvin Van Peebles and has made his own splash in a positive way with New Jack City.

MVP has also made many a splash, right into the toilet with some of his solo10character choices, as well as some of his actual acting. He can be good, but that would not be the case with Solo. He physically can handle the part and Solo was totally something meant to launch a franchise, as well as make MVP an action star. But even playing a robot, he still comes off as wooden, and playing a robot should be pretty easy, one would think.

Like I said, if you are not someone that can get into a mindless action movie, then stay far away, but if you don’t mind a little sacrificing of your brains, then there is some fun to be had with Solo. William Sadler plays the villainous Colonel Frank Madden, whom is in charge of hunting down, and bringing back Solo. Sadler is, as always, fantastically menacing and he hates Solo for no apparent reason and will do whatever it takes to take him out. Maybe there is an undercurrent of racism with the character, like he doesn’t dig the thought of a “brotha” stealing his shine and being the best of the best? Or it’s just plain old jealousy.

solo2So there’s a great villain, but what’s better than a great villain? Well, Solo is guilty of using a major amount of “Solo Vision!”



solo Yep, that’s Adrien Brody! Oscar winner and co-star of SOLO!

solo5 I love any type of “Vision” in a movie…especially animal or robot vision and Solo, has a ton of it!

What makes Solo worth every second comes in the form of a big time SPOILER ALERT!! Not that spoiling Solo would ruin many film lover’s day, but I shall not spoil anything without warning. At the end of the film, when Solo has prevailed and beaten Sadler’s character Frank Madden and all the bad guys, and just when you think it’s all over…Super Solo shows up! Super Solo is the next level of Solo, the even more solo8advanced, advanced machine/bringer of doom, and he is here to take out, Solo! It doesn’t end right there, oh no siree bob, Super Solo is modeled after another soldier, and that soldier just so happens to be Frank Madden strapped with an oversized, badass gun arm to top it all off!

For a movie that is essentially a thoughtless action flick, there sure is a whole lot going on. I didn’t even get into how Solo tries to connect with humans and their emotions either, but he does, thus showing that even though he is a hunk of metal and wires, he is capable of feelings too. Solo is a movie, where an incomplete killing machine is asked what he wants to look like and after seeing an Air Jordan commercial, he says “Like Mike”…need I say more?


  1. I just saw this trailer on some old VHS tape I was checking out the other week and it got me thinking that I was long overdue to rewatch this hunk of '90s cheese - the movie that pretty much destroyed MVP's short-lived, but way enjoyable, career as an action star. Great write-up on a shit movie, Matt!

  2. This hit theatres? You weren't joking?

    These are the kind of films my step-dad hoards in big plastic bins in the middle of the living room and watches on Sunday afternoons. It's part sad, part comedy.

    I was going to mention... has the MVP done anything decent outside of New Jack City? Still one of my favorite films ever!

  3. Jeff: Thanks! I remember seeing trailers for it and thinking it looked cool, then word of mouth quickly spread and my interest was lost just as fast! I do enjoy some of what MVP has done, but he is not the type of action star that Solo was trying to sell him as. Poor guy!

    Ashlee: He did directed BAADASSSSS, which was a biopic of his father making Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, but besides that, I don't think he has done much else. I love New Jack City too and it's too bad he didn't do more films as good as that one.

  4. I remember seeing this all over the shelves back in the good ol Video Hut days here in Oceanside, coincidentally next door to Pizza Hut. Matt, theres a guy feeding a deer on your banner, thats awesome, I am a proponent of feeding deers in cars


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