Toy Soldiers (1991)

toysoldiersIt’s “Die Hard.” But now it’s set in a private school. And it stars a bunch of child actors now young men that band together to bring down terrorists. You have to love the nineties. Most of it tried to establish its identity, while the rest pretty much cribbed ideas from the eighties. If you can buy that Will Wheaton and Sean Astin are action heroes, “Toy Soldiers” is passable action escapism that mixes “Die Hard” with a touch of “Red Dawn.”

A bonafide childhood favorite, director Daniel Petrie unfolds the tale of a Colombian terrorist Luis Cali who takes a local prep school hostage, the students of whom are children of America’s most influential people. Unwittingly, the son of the judge working on Cali’s dad’s case has been taken away and now Cali must hold his ground, keeping the students at ransom and hoping to free his father. Astin is the protagonist Billy who often commits acts of vandalism and pranks on his dean and the faculty of his prep school merely because it helps create the idea of rebellion within him.

Andrew Divoff is the vicious Cali who lays siege on the school and takes over the entire perimeter holding the student body hostage in exchange for the freedom of his dad, and most of the film involves the students trying to outwit and outgun the massive army Cali has implemented on the prep school. The heroes for the most part don’t really offer anything unique for the action genre, and are there to mainly play off of the great Andrew Divoff and his snarling foreign army.

Good old upper class preppies vs. greasy foreigners is a staple of the action genre, and “Toy Soldiers” embraces it whole hog. Meanwhile Louis Gossett Jr. has a good time embracing this Dean with a dark streak who engages in a war of bitter reprisals Cali begins to act violently toward his hostages. “Toy Soldiers” is one of the many attempts at a “Die Hard” picture in the early nineties, and while it’s stale and fails to be remotely exciting, it at least has some kitsch value for its insistence that Sean Astin can be a hard nosed action hero.