Dead Mans Shoes (2004)
The Soldier: Richard
Up Against: A collection of thugs who spent their time bullying Richard’s mentally handicapped brother when they were younger.
The Awesome: We like our anti-heroes dark, and Richard is so dark he’s practically made out of shadows. An almost monster-like avenger who’ll do anything to get payback where it’s due, he’s angry, spiteful and one heck of a fighter. Not that we condone this sort of behaviour…
The Soldier: Cpl. Dwayne Hicks
Up Against: Intergalactic xenomorphs that have taken over the colonised world LV-426. There, they’re proceeding to lay the entire planet to waste.
The Awesome: Hicks gets the job done. While everybody else is comparing muscle mass and mouthing off hysterically (we’re looking at you, Hudson), Hicks is quiet, efficient and aces with a gun. This is the guy you really want on your side when you’re battling acid-bleeding space bogies. Even if his first name is Dwayne.
A Bridge Too Far (1977)
The Soldier: Staff Sergeant Dohun
Up Against: Those rotten Germans, and more specifically key bridges behind enemy lines that could prove pivotal in their defeat.
The Awesome: Dohun’s just one of a handful of awesome soldiers here (Anthony Hopkins, Gene Hackman, Michael Caine), but Dohun’s one of the younger recruits, and his passion sets him apart from the others. When one of his comrades is injured, he pulls a gun on a physician to ensure he’s properly looked after. Now that’s friendship.
Apocalypse Now (1979)
The Soldier: Captain Willard
Up Against: The Vietnamese, as well as Colonel Kurtz, a renegade soldier who’s made himself a god in a Vietnamese tribe.
The Awesome: Willard is a magician when it comes to tracking down his enemies. A ruthless assassin-come-soldier, he holds his own against a tiger and won’t let anybody stand in his way (witness his cold-blooded shooting of a young woman). Do not mess with this guy.
Saving Private Ryan (1998)
The Soldier: Private Jackson
Up Against: The inhabitants/protectors of Normandy following the Normandy Landings.
The Awesome: Jackson was probably born with a sniper rifle gripped in one hand, that’s how good he is with the thing. Sure, he looks a little odd, but his ability with a firearm is not to be scoffed at. Get on the wrong side of him and nowhere’s safe.
The Soldier: Private Trip
Up Against: Not only the Confederates during the US Civil War, but also clamouring prejudice.
The Awesome: You know a guy’s bad-ass when he can withstand a lashing with a bullwhip. Which is exactly what Trip goes through as he stares down racism in the army. Soon he’s an important member of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Atta boy.
Blood Diamond (2006)
The Soldier: Danny Archer
Up Against: Sierra Leone and diamond smugglers.
The Awesome: Another anti-hero, Archer’s the poster boy for desensitisation, his insides having been turned cold as stone from all the terrible things he’s seen and done. That makes him an efficient killing machine, but he also has his morals somewhere deep down.
The Soldier: Colonel Joshua Chamberlain
Up Against: Confederate forces who want to trample the Union Army.
The Awesome: Chamberlain is just an everyman at heart. He leads his men by example, and is able to rouse them to fight even when things are looking impossible. He may not be a flashy fighter with impressive firearms, but he’s a survivor.
Tears Of The Sun (2003)
The Soldier: Lt. A.K. Waters
Up Against: A Nigerian military dictator and the forces of his vindictive regime.
The Awesome: Bruce Willis may be best known for his wise-cracking action heroes, but as Lt. Waters he reins in the quipping and delivers a hard-boiled, killer turn. Waters is coldly efficient, with a soldier’s mindframe – and like any good freedom fighter, he’s not above ignoring orders from the top.
Dog Soldiers (2002)
The Soldier: Spoon
Up Against: Big, drooling, mean-looking werewolves.
The Awesome: Most soldiers only have to pit their wits against other men. Not Spoon, who finds himself hunting lycanthropes – and generally coming out on top. What a man.