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Toy Soldiers Review

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Terrorists take over a college without counting on the students’ improbable action-hero skills.

★★★★★

If you add two parts Home Alone to one part Die Hard and another of Red Dawn, chances are you'll end up with a few guns going off, lots of teen male bonding cliches, and basically a load of old bollocks up on the screen. Pleasant surprise then, that Toy Soldiers, largely cooked up from the above mentioned recipe, is actually a pretty exciting ride, thanks to a few strong performances and just the right dose of unexpected irony.

Right from the outset the events come big and fast: When a Colombian drug king is extradited to the US, his faithful crook son decides to negotiate Dad's release by holding hostage the entire American boarding school attended by the boy whose father will preside as judge over the drug trial. Cut to the leafy academy where the "problem" sons of the rich and powerful are congregated to learn their sums and a few manners. Bright-eyed upper classman Billy Tepper (Astin) and his pals are having none of all that ; they're into spraypaint, peddling liquor to the other youngsters, staying up all night smoing, dialing sex hotlines and dodging flashlight beams from mean old Dean Parker (Gossett Jr.) and The Headmaster (Elliott).

Naturally, Tepper and Co. get their true final exam when the trigger-happy terrorists arrive with an immense arsenal, plenty of guerilla experience and, as is well displayed, no mercy for our fun-loving teenage sportsmen. You can roughly guess the rest, but there are at least enough clever detours from the familiar suspense formula to keep it moving, and the very down-to-earth characters are a joy to accompany through their ordeal. After one of the boys is killed, the rest mop their tears for awhile before imploring a dejected Tepper to take up their struggle anew. Slowly he brightens and then whines, "Well, alright, but if anyone says 'Let's do it for Joey', I'm gonna puke!" No one does.

Toy Soldiers hasn't made much of a splash anywhere else yet, and probably won't be at your local cinema for long at all; you could do a lot worse than to remember it a few months down the road when it shows up against that same old pile you always pass by on the Action/Adventure shelf at the local video shop.

It’s macho hogwash but retro fun.

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