It’s a century and a half after mankind has declared God dead, and hell has frozen over. Or rather, Arizona has (along with the rest of the planet), and a poor man’s version of the crackpot team of mouthy marines from Aliens are tasked with the job of driving out into the sub-zero wastelands and taking out the artificially-created rogue superhuman Ash-393 (not the one played by Ian Holm in the first Alien, nor indeed – despite outward appearances and much spouting of useless philosophy – Rutger Hauer’s character from Blade Runner either), who is leading a band of runaway Replicants (sorry, “Humanoids”) towards the possibly mythical oasis of warmth they’ve heard exists somewhere on the west coast. Long Beach, presumably. Most of which we learn via Paul Sidhu’s impression of Kurt Russell on the voiceover track.
If there’s a future action sci-fi cliché that story-liner Sidhu and screenwriter / director Joey Curtis skipped, it’s presumably because those pages were missing from their copy of the How to Do Future Action Sci-Fi handbook. Sidhu’s character Bishop is brought out of retirement five years after the death of his wife – apparently at the hands of Ash-393, but, well, you know – in order to lead the team, by hard-nosed boss Trajan (Brad Potts), who might just have had something to do with… no, we’re not going to spoil it for you. Suffice it to say, there’s a wise eccentric called Cage (Harwood Gordon) living in the wilderness whose help Bishop seeks after being saved from certain death by beautiful, barely clothed native American Atka (Anne-Solenne Hatte), prior to which Bishop’s hard-talking commandos – including pseudo-Kelly’s Heroes Donald Sutherland-alike El-Hatta (Kelcey Watson), fire-faced ingénue Ishmael (Timothy Lee Depriest) and bad-mouthed Hitler-spouting token hard-assed female soldier Kix (Holmes), plus some other guy who dies early – manage to lose their vehicle in an early skirmish before falling prey to Ash-393’s superhuman Replicants (sorry, “Humanoids”) one by one. The early subterranean sequences (future man has had to relocate “ten feet” under the snow-bound desert) are like the Korova Milk Bar from A Clockwork Orange as directed by Blade Runner-period Ridley Scott. The entire ultra-violent, humour-free enterprise reeks of a bastardised amalgamation of an over the hill John Carpenter and a budget-stripped Roland Emmerich.
We even get “I love the smell of in the morning”. Page One if you’re looking in that handbook.
On the plus side, the whole thing is more than competently produced, scored, shot, edited and (mostly) acted, so if derivative future action sci-fi’s your thing, there’s plenty enough enjoyment to be had. Just don’t go in expecting a single surprise, nor to have your grey matter tickled in any way whatsoever.
THE WINTER SOLDIER (AKA 2307: WINTER’S DREAM) / CERT: 15 / DIRECTOR: JOEY CURTIS / SCREENPLAY: JOEY CURTIS, STORY BY: PAUL SIDHU / STARRING: PAUL SIDHU, BRANDEN COLES, ARIELLE HOLMES / RELEASE DATE: 1ST MAY