The success of Die Hard led to a bevy of copycat movies which saw terrorists take over a location (a building, a boat, a train, a plane) only to be thwarted by an unlikely hero. 1991’s Toy Soldiers sees a group of Colombian terrorists take over a boarding school – and the only person who can stop them is Sean Astin’s character as a bad boy pupil. This is a pretty ridiculous actioner but Daniel Petrie Jr’s movie holds true to its core concept and it gives you exactly what you want from this type of brainless entertainment.
Daniel Petrie Jr knows a thing or two about fun action films, having written the first two Beverly Hills Cop films, The Big Easy and Deadly Pursuit. He’s assisted in writing duties by David Koepp – a man who knows a thing or two about crafting tense screenplays (Mission: Impossible, Jurassic Park, Carlito’s Way to name but a few). They know their craft and give you the type of stand-out sequences you expect from a film if this ilk. Toy Soldiers might be cliché but it’s cliché that works in the best possible way. This is every school boys day dream captured on celluloid for post-Reagan America.Admittedly there’s nothing ground-breaking in Toy Soldiers but it does pack a punch in the fun stakes. It’s surpassingly violent (which makes you question who the intended audience is) and it features some strong stunt work (an ariel sequence at the start is a standout).
Former Goonie and soon to be Hobbit, Sean Astin makes a unconventional and if surprisingly interesting action hero, while Louis Gossett Jr is the gruff authority figure (is he ever anything else?). Star Trek: The Next Generation’s Wil Wheaton is on fine side-kick form and Andrew Divoff does his best Robert Davi impersonation as the evil leader of the Colombian terrorists.
A fun actioner that’s a total product of its time, Toy Solders has its charms. It doesn’t compare to Die Hard (nothing ever does) but it delivers the goods in an old-fashioned action type of way.