Square-jawed Johnny Rico and his fellow grunts embark on a bloody, planet-hopping campaign to eradicate an invading insectoid alien race, in Verhoeven's grandiose burlesque of Robert A. Heinlein's fervently right-wing 1950s sci-fi epic.
In the not-too-distant future, where Earth is a happily authoritarian global state in which full citizenship is earned through military service, square-jawed Johnny Rico (Casper Van Dien) enlists in the mobile infantry out of pique after his high-school sweetheart (Denise Richards) leaves him to become a spaceship pilot. When Earth comes under attack from an insectoid alien race, Johnny gets his gung-ho on as he and his fellow grunts embark on a bloody, planet-hopping campaign under the leadership of their iron-fisted CO (Michael Ironside) to wipe out the vicious "bugs." Blending the bellicose jingoism of Hollywood WWII movies with blatantly Nazified aesthetics, Verhoeven and RoboCop screenwriter Ed Neumeier turn the sabre-rattling scenario of Robert A. Heinlein's fervently right-wing 1950s source novel on its head. A grandiose burlesque of all tub-thumping, war-glorifying action pictures — itself, naturally, included — and filled to bursting with spectacularly gory violence, vintage Verhoevenian smut (dig the co-ed shower scene), and the deathless image of Neil Patrick Harris done up à la Heinrich Himmler, Starship Troopers has outlived its wan box-office reception to become a cherished cult classic.