War Machine
by Andy Remik

Spaceships, guns, robots, guns, sentient oil slicks, more guns, luscious space vixens that are definitely deadlier than the male… War Machine is like the collected hardware spank banks of Chris Foss, Neil Asher and Jeremy Clarkson all mashed into one. It’s an unapologetic, guilty pulp pleasure, and yet one that still manages to hook you thanks to some inventive plotting.

      The central character is Keenan – drunken, ex leader of Combat K – who’s on a mission to find the murderer of his wife and daughters. So far, so action movie obvious. However, splice in some post-war intergalactic politics, an Aeon Flux styled nemesis and an alien artifact that allows the owner to see any past event, and you’ve got a much more engaging mix. Well, at least up until the point where the character development begins to disappoint.

      Of the central trio Keenan comes off the worst. While the tragic back story of his female compatriot, Pippa, gives drive to her blood lust, there’s something trite about our hero’s call to action. He’s lost his family, he’s been driven to drink and now he’s commissioned to recover an item that hold’s the key to the assassin’s identity. But his tears seem crocodile, his role in the text more catalyst than emotive linchpin. That’s not to say when the depleted uranium pebble dashes the Kevlar fan, you aren’t with him all the way. It’s just that his revenge seems perpetually tempered by the fact that he actually thrives on nuking stuff.

      Thankfully Franco, the third member of the squad, provides some A-Team ‘Mad’ Murdock styled humour, which nicely counterpoints the ‘war is hell’ dourness of his fellow troopers. But, even here, it’s still a case of the ensemble carrying you through the excellently realised locations. Get Keenan on his own, and you soon realise that the ties of Combat K are far stronger than any motivation provided by departed flesh and blood. Unfortunate, in that it makes this a good rather than great piece of space opera, but still hard evidence that Solaris continue to amass an impressive stable of talent.