Saturday August 24, 1996
In the title role of "Solo," a lackluster action-adventure, Mario Van Peebles--his head shaved and his body buffed to the max--certainly makes a statuesque android. Judging from the evidence, Van Peebles worked lots harder getting into shape than director Norberto Barba and writer David Corley did in doing the same for the film.
Adapted from Robert Mason's novel "Weapon," "Solo" is so derivative that at different moments it makes you think of "Predator," the Indiana Jones adventures, "Seven Samurai," "Samson and Delilah" and those countless pictures in which robots become more human than humans.
In any event, the U.S. military has spent $2 billion on developing Solo, possessed of the strength of 15 men, and dispatches him to a South American nation, where he is to destroy some nasty rebels who have forced a village of farmers to build an airstrip.
Because his all-too-human creator (Adrien Brody)--an unlikely type to be involved with the military--has programmed him not to target noncombatants and also to act to preserve himself, Solo quickly defies orders. He thereby saves many lives among the kindly, gentle villagers, whose protector he becomes.
But in doing so, he of course takes on both the rebel forces and the U.S. military, represented by Barry Corbin's general and William Sadler's colonel, ruthless, hateful, apoplectic oppressors.
Van Peebles has presence and conviction, but that's not remotely enough to offset the staleness and predictability of this murky piece of junk.
Solo, 1996. PG-13, for combat action violence and brief strong language. A Columbia Pictures release of a Triumph Films presentation of an Orpheus Films-John Flock production in association with Van Peebles Films. Director Norberto Barba. Producers Joseph Newton Cohen & John Flock. Screenplay by David Corley; based on the novel "Weapon" by Robert Mason. Cinematographer Christopher Walling. Editor Scott Conrad. Costumes Maria Estela Fernandez. Music Christopher Franke. Production designer Markus Canter. Art director Jose Luis Aguilar. Set decorator Jorge Lara Sanchez. Running time: 1 hour, 34 minutes. Mario Van Peebles as Solo. Barry Corbin as General Clyde Haynes. William Sadler as Colonel Madden. Adrien Brody as Bill Stewart.