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Soldiers of Fortune

D: Maxim Korostyshevsky / 93m

Cast: Christian Slater, Sean Bean, Ving Rhames, Dominic Monaghan, James Cromwell, Charlie Bewley, Oxana Korostyshevsky, Colm Meaney, Freddy Rodriguez, Ryan Donowho

Soldiers of Fortune, even with its impressive cast (who must still be paying off their mortgages), is still the epitome of a silly, war-related action movie. Playing fast and loose with both logic and credibility, Soldiers of Fortune begins with McCenzie (Slater) and Reed (Rodriguez) on a mission in Helmand province in 2008. Reed is disguised as a woman, and wears a full-length blue burqha in order to infiltrate a village hiding a weapons cache. He’s quickly rumbled and it’s up to “never-leave-a-man-behind” McCenzie to invade the village single-handedly and rescue Reed from both the Taliban and ultra-nasty CIA operative Mason (Meaney), and this despite clear orders to the contrary. Fast forward two dishonourable discharges and four years later, and McCenzie and Reed are in need of a big payday. Enter Oxana (Korostyshevsky) and Ernesto (Donowho), freedom fighters from an island off the coast of Eastern Europe. They want McCenzie and Reed to help them overthrow corrupt Colonel Lupo (Gennadi Vengerov), and reclaim their island. (Oh, and ultra-nasty CIA operative Mason who is now Lupo’s chief of security.)

At this point, so far, so predictable. But then the movie throws its one one and only curve ball… and it’s a doozy. The freedom fighters have gained financial backing for their intended coup from five multi-millionaires: metals magnate Dimitov (Bean); video games designer Tommy Sin (Monaghan); arms dealer Grimaud (Rhames); financial whizkid Vanderbeer (Bewley); and ageing tycoon Haussman (Cromwell). As well as providing financing for the intended coup, all five find themselves going along for the ride under the pretence of taking part in a televised war game. It’s down to McCenzie and Reed to keep them safe when the real bullets start flying.

Soldiers of Fortune - scene

It’s this aspect of the script – multi-millionaires in fatigues take on a well-trained guerrilla army – that heightens the absurdity of it all and takes it to new levels. And there is the added bonus of Tommy Sin having a broken leg from the mission’s beginning: initially it’s an obstacle to his getting about but it’s rarely of any consequence or cause of any impedance once the mission is fully under way. In fact, Sin walks and runs just as well as any of the others, even after he’s shot in the same leg later on in the movie.

Of the cast, Rhames and Cromwell fare best, while Slater is required to do little more than scowl a lot and show off his forward rolls. The action sequences are perfunctory, and the direction by first-timer Korostyshevsky is adequate for this kind of thing, although he often clutters the frame in his efforts to cram in all the cast. The locations, however, are beautiful, and if nothing else the cast must have had a wonderful time being there. There are the inevitable personal “showdowns” for each member of the team, and there is one completely WTF? moment when Grimaud produces a rocket launcher from – literally – out of nowhere.

Watching Soldiers of Fortune is akin to viewing the worst bits of a “boys with toys” wish-fulfillment video. The bad guys are always killed by one bullet when one of the team takes three hits before going out in a blaze of glory; Slater’s reputation for never losing anyone on a mission is overturned within minutes of the mission starting; one of the multi-millionaires turns out to be a traitor (gasp!); at boot camp, all five unfit multi-millionaires – even Monaghan – tackle the obstacle course with ease; and all the while the audience is left wondering if the script has been translated into a foreign language and then translated back again… by someone unversed in either language.

Rating: 4/10 – as bad as it looks but in a perverse way, fun too to see so many stars prepared to dumb down for the money; loud, stupid, and awful in equal measure.

Originally posted on thedullwoodexperiment website.