"The Soldier," a saggy new spy saga tailored to the better-dead-than-Red set, doesn't give a tinker's damn for suspense.
Ken Wahl, a John Travolta type, plays a super spy code-named The Soldier, who saves the world from another near-nuking. "Wrong Is Right," a recent release, pulled a similar ploy. But blast it all, that didn't stop writer/director/producer James Glickenhaus from testing the public taste for another cold-war-meets-the-oil-crisis scenario.
In "The Soldier," the Soviets threaten to vaporize an Arabian oil field if the Israelis don't move out of the West Bank. This will destroy 50 percent of the world's oil supply, and millions of Americans will have to sit in gas lines. So with the knowledge of only the director of the CIA, The Soldier and his undercover army (Joaquim de Almeida, Peter Hooten, Steve James and Alexander Spencer) squelch the Communist plot.
First off, Wahl heads for a ski resort to meet with his KGB connection, Klaus Kinski, who doesn't give this film much of a lift during his star-billed performance of, say, 80 seconds. Kinski has just enough time to shove Wahl into a cable car, from which Wahl escapes just before it blows up.
The plot goes downhill from there, with Russia's ski- and spy-team shooting and somersaulting to their deaths to stop Wahl's schuss for safety. Sounds spectacular, but there's no edge control. No chills. (Besides, Agent 007 fans will remember a similar sequence in "For Your Eyes Only.")
While Wahl's team takes over a missile silo in Kansas, Wahl goes to West Berlin with the chief of Israel's covert operations (Alberta Watson). This gives Wahl and Watson a chance for a blech love scene that brings the cold war back to the bedroom, too. Talk about the Rock Hudson/Doris Day school of romance. When Watson says she's spending the night, he says, "I'll go sleep on the couch."
Afterward they drive a Porsche over the Berlin Wall at 85 miles per hour in third gear. It's an amazing feat, considering that the film runs out of gas long before it hits the bricks.
THE SOLDIER -- At 16 area theaters.