Future Soldier Poster

Future Soldier (2023) Review

Set in an alternate version of 2002 that looks like a cross between Blade Runner, Dredd, and one of Cannon’s Death Wish sequels, Future Soldier is the story of Lt. Mo Harrington (Sean Earl McPherson, The Antwerp Dolls, The Cleaner). In 1989, he volunteered for The Hoplite Project under the supervision of Dr, Heart (Natalie Reed, Mogue, Northpoint) and General Luke Dagger (Ian Curd, Tapped Out, Valentina). He became a supersoldier tasked with helping NATO keep the USSR at bay.

Now he works as a bounty hunter, trying to clean up crime in the sprawling Supercity Europe. On an assignment for the Phallanx Corporation and working with Luke’s daughter Sarah (Ellie Pickering, Gallowglass, Hoplite 2000) he discovers evidence of something called Project Centurion and attracts the attention of the crime boss known as The Matriarch (Sarah Whitehouse, The Cambridge Rapist, Lapwing), and that’s just the start of his problems.

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Revisiting the world he created for the 2017 short Hoplite 2000 writer/director Ed Kirk doesn’t waste much time, dropping the viewer into the midst of Harrington’s retro cyberpunk world and the complex relationships and uneasy alliances among its inhabitants, corporations and gangs. A world where the Soviet Union never fell and the Cold War is being fought, only now it’s fought by corporations rather than governments.

As Harrington teams up with former cop Xoey Cass (Yasmine Alice, Ruptures, The School of British Accents) and criminal with a concience Decks (Adam Fox, Hoplite 2000, Tell Them of Us), flashbacks and conversations help bring the viewer up to speed on these days of future passed even as the characters are drawn further into a conspiracy that could change its balance of power.

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Future Soldier was shot over four years on a budget of about £5,000 or a bit over $6000 so don’t expect a lot of futuristic gadgetry or fancy effects. There are a fair number of CGI shots of flying cars, a futuristic skyline, etc, but they’re far from state of the art and some of the more video game like shots arguably hurt the film as much as they help it. Once again a smaller number of better-done shots would probably have worked better.

“I am just so proud of the time, work and craft that the cast and crew have brought to the project. They have been so dedicated to the film throughout the production and have given 110% every step of the way.”

Ed Kirk

The film makes up for that with plenty of hand-to-hand combat, something that never seems to go out of style no matter what version of the future you’re in. By centring the plot around the poorest areas of the megalopolis, the equivalent of Shadowrun’s Barrens, Future Soldier also wisely avoids the need for a lot of futuristic sets and gives the film a grittier, noirish feel. Cinematographer Ben Collin (The Gardener, Pet Graveyard) gets to show a lot more skill than his frequent work on Scott Jeffrey’s films have allowed him to show in the past. He helps get the most out of the film’s makeshift sets and often manages to suggest a much bigger world just out of sight.

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This combination of planning and technical skills helps Future Soldier avoid many of the pitfalls that drag down similarly micro-budgeted science fiction films. And while the results are rough around the edges and sometimes just plain rough, what the cast and crew have accomplished on so little money is amazing.

That, coupled with a plot that while derivative is entertaining and delivers more action than many no-budget films, makes Future Soldier a film that should satisfy regular viewers of indie films and more mainstream fans willing to approach it with an open mind. The ending hints at a sequel, and I’d be interested in seeing what else this timeline has to offer.

Future Soldier will be released to Digital Platforms in the UK on May 1st by Reel2Reel Films. It’s currently available on Digital in the US. If you’re looking for more films like this, FilmTagger can offer some suggestions.

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