Amongst its students The Regis School has earned the nickname the school for rejects as some of the boys who go there are either rebellious and have been expelled from other private schools or feel unwanted by their wealthy parents. It is why Billy Tepper (Sean Astin - Memphis Belle) goes there as he has been kicked out of three private schools already whilst amongst his friends is Joey Trotta (Wil Wheaton - Stand by Me) who just happens to be the son of the head of the New York Mafia. But the school finds itself under attack from terrorist Luis Cali (Andrew Divoff) as a judge has put his father inside so Cali is going to hold the judge's son hostage till his father is released and will use the other students as bargaining chips. Whilst the government and military surround the school they find themselves with an unlikely ally in Billy who is sneaking around the school, observing what the terrorists are upt to and trying to save his friends.
In the classic prisoner of war movie "The Great Escape" it was the ingenuity of the men alongside their camaraderie which helped make it a favourite amongst young boys. Again in "Die Hard" it was the ingenuity of John McClane but also that element that he felt like he has to save people and defeat the bad guy which again made it a favourite with audiences and young boys. And it is very much those same elements which makes "Toy Soldiers" a popular movie amongst those who have watched it as we have creativity, loyalty and heroics to make it a fun piece of escapism. But more importantly are hero is a teen tearaway, a rebel who enjoys getting one over on the teachers but would do anything to protect those close to him, he has that John McLane thing where he has to save people.
As such what you get in "Toy Soldiers" is not a complex movie; bad guys swoop in on a private school where they plan to use the pupils as bargaining chips to get a criminal released from prison. It isn't that original but it works as a good vehicle for the action especially as prior to the bad guys swooping in we had already had a taste of Billy's creativity from hot wiring a phone line to make dirty calls with his friends to recreating one of the teacher's rooms outside as a prank. And what follows is a lot of escapism from bad guys using rocket launchers to blow up cars to Billy sneaking around whilst sticking it to the bad guys.
Truth be told a big part of what makes "Toy Soldiers" work is the casting of Sean Astin as he has that look of being a good kid with a cocky, rebellious side. It makes him an entertaining teen hero and Astin really brings out the nature of Billy perfectly whilst having good chemistry with his co stars be it Wil Wheaton as one of the students or Louis Gossett Jr. as the school's Dean.
What this all boils down to is that "Toy Soldiers" was and still is a lot of fun, some action escapism with a "Die Hard" flavour but made for a teen audience. Saying that, my teen days are long gone but I still love this movie in the same way I love the 80s version of "Red Dawn".