A frustratingly not-terrible action thriller.
Maybe we’ve seen too many movies. Maybe that’s why so many movies seem to be familiar before we’ve even seen them - why the filmmakers seem to be conducting a drill rather than trying something new. “Toy Soldiers,” a film with earnest performances and professional production values, is constructed out of characters, situations and gimmicks that will be instantly recognized by the weary viewer. There is nothing new here.
The movie opens with two sequences that inform us exactly what we can expect. One shows a Central American desperado killing hostages in a desperate attempt to win the release of his father, a drug baron being brought to the United States for trial. The other shows a group of prep school students sneaking out of their rooms and into a secret basement of the old school building, to tap into phone lines and get drunk. The school troublemakers are caught by the dean, who disciplines them.
We can now safely predict, if we have been paying the slightest attention, that the drug baron’s son will capture the school with a group of terrorists, and that they will successfully be outsmarted by the troublemaking kids, whose rebellious spirits now come in handy. We don’t even need the scene establishing that the druglord is being tried by a judge whose son is one of the school ringleaders.
Since the plot of the movie is utterly predictable, we hope at least for some cleverness in the gimmicks. Here the movie is so disappointing that I wonder if the screenwriters were really trying.