on August 23, 1996 by Dwayne E. Leslie
   Based on Robert Mason's novel "Weapon," "Solo" tells the story of a military killing machine that has a human exterior but an interior of computer gadgetry. He is 10 times faster and 15 times stronger than a normal man, a master of all combat forms and any weapon. If e is severely damaged, he is abandoned. And abandon is exactly what audiences will do with this predictable SF actioner. The non-too-thrilling scenario: Solo ("Highlander III's" Mario Van Peebles) is supposed to be a cold-blooded covert killer that is programmed to learn and make decisions; when he disobeys a direct order, he is marked for reprogramming to remove a directive that prevents him from harming noncombatants. When he escapes, an elite force is assembled (led by "Tales From the Crypt Presents Demon Knight's" William Sadler) to bring back the $2 billion investment. "Solo" borrows the killing coldness from "Terminator," independent thinking from "Universal Soldier" and a weapon from "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock." But that coldness fades in and out like a bad foreign accent, and the independent thinking gives way to a personality glitch that makes Solo seem more normal than mechanical; and the filmmakers should have known better than to use something as recognizable as the "d'k tahg" (Klingon knife) as olo's primary blade. The film ends up having more laughs than a comedy. Plus, to fully satisfy its target audience, the movie should have had the bloodlust to be rated an R; its lack of gory blood and gruesome sound effects (e.g., necks breaking) will leaves the genre's core audience of male-teen fans feeling a little cheated.
   There are, however, a few spectacular stunts that will make moviegoers cheer. The best involves Solo jumping from a cliff and atching a rope, then sliding down it bare-handed while holding on to a person. But the movie needed far more of those Solo shots.    Starring Mario Van Peebles, Barry Corbin, William Sadler and Adrien Brody. Directed by Norberto Barba. Written by David Corley. Produced by Joseph Newton Cohen and John Flock. A Triumph release. SF. Rated PG-13 for combat action violence and brief strong language. Running time: 94 min.
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