Paradox Soldiers (2011)

Paradox Soldiers is surprisingly good. It has a distinct, funky style, some excellent action sequences and some decent performances from the cast. It is also brain-achingly confusing, the time-travel issue is never explained and it’s laughably silly at times. A mixed bag, but certainly very entertaining.

Battle re-enactment groups in Russia are apparently awesome. Paradox Soldiers shows us the funkiest pre-reenactment party ever depicted; featuring bands, beers, brawls and an all night party. Not quite 50 fat guys standing in a wet field somewhere in Dorset. Everyone is gathered there to reenact the Battle of Brody (sadly unrelated to Roy Scheider), a brutal and bloody encounter that left thousands dead.

Two of our protagonists are busy wandering around the “battleground” before the re-enactment when they discover the ruins of an old mansion. Sitting down for a rest they realize they’re sitting on an unexploded World War 2 bomb! They’re subsequently set-upon by two practical jokers – oblivious to the horrific explosive device – who throw a firecracker into the ruin… right next to the bomb. As all four flee the ancient battle site, the tiny firework detonates and the bomb explodes, engulfing them in fire.

The four wake up in a horse-drawn cart, bound and blindfolded. Confused, lost and afraid, they quickly realize that something absurd has happened – they’ve been blown back in time! Once they work out the date and their location, they’re horrified to learn that they’re about to re-enact the Battle of Brody for real… The four decide to put their petty differences aside and work together to escape World War 2 and get back to the present. Somehow.

Paradox Soldiers is genuinely very good. It’s core concept it smart and well executed, it’s superbly directed by Boris Rostov and Alexander Samohvalov and acted to perfection by the four lost-in-time battle re-enactors. It is incredibly stylish in places and the soundtrack had some surprisingly rocking tones.

There are only a couple of problems with Paradox Soldiers. Firstly it feels tonally awkward at times; the subject matter is serious but sometimes the music and acting leans towards the comical. This is a minor complaint as it does make Paradox Soldiers easier to watch. The second issue, however, will severely affect your enjoyment…

Paradox Soldiers is utterly baffling, and I mean totally and utterly brain-stabbingly confusing. At the film’s beginning Cherep (Vladimir Yaglych) has a random flashback to World War 2, where a woman is blown up in a bunker. This is not explained. It also appears that people in 1944 seem to know who Cherep is, as if he frequently bomb-teleports back in time for a brief natter! There’s also absolutely no explanation as to how or why they’re all blown back in time by a bomb. It’s absolutely mind-achingly strange… but there’s a reason why – and not a good one.

Having done some cunning research, the reason why Paradox Soldiers is so bloody confounding is because it’s actually a sequel… even though it’s shamelessly presented as an original for its UK release – naughty! The original – My iz budushchego – was released in 2008 and presumably received enough attention in Russia to warrant a second film. This explains why Cherep is recognized by people in 1944 and is madly in love with a woman who died in World War 2! It appears Cherep and Nurse Nina (Ekaterina Klimova) had a relationship which was cut short when she apparently died in the first film…

If I had known this valuable information before watching Paradox Soldiers – or if they director / writer had presented this in the film (and not just as an unexplained flashback) – then I probably would’ve loved this even more. Sadly, it was too confusing to truly adore. This lack of explanation will subsequently confuse a lot of UK audiences, which is a real shame.

Overall Paradox Soldiers is a great sci-fi war film. It’s light, action-packed and thoroughly entertaining. Sadly it also feels like damaged goods as it’s an unexpected sequel of a film that’s never been released in the English language. A great watch despite its irreconcilable flaws.

Rating: ★★★★★★½☆☆☆

2 Comments on “Paradox Soldiers”

  1. robert says:

    thanks for clearing up the thing about cherep. it was so confusing!

    • Scullion says:

      It took a surprising amount of research to find that information out! It genuinely baffled me – like I’d missed something but was too stupid to work out what – but I worked it out thanks to a lot of Russian websites and about 2 hours on IMDB!

      Made the whole film a lot more enjoyable on the second watch…

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