Soldiers of Fortune: Film Review

Soldiers of Fortune Poster Art - P 2012

Soldiers of Fortune Poster Art - P 2012

A talented cast is wasted in this sub-par, umpteenth variation on The Dirty Dozen.

Christian Slater leads a motley crew of bored millionaires in a mock military exercise that goes seriously awry.

“Welcome to Snake Island, gentlemen…you will never leave.” “Let’s go kill some bad guys.” “That’ll pucker your rear end.” “The Grim Reaper always gets paid.”

These are but a few examples of the risible dialogue in the cheesy new action film Soldiers of Fortune, yet another B-movie that wastes the talents of an estimable cast. Starring Christian Slater and opening on the same day as the actor’s similarly misbegotten Assassin’s Bullet, this is a film so bad that not only was it not screened in advance for critics, it’s publicists wouldn’t even provide background information. It might as well have been entered into the Witness Protection Program.

For the record, Slater plays U.S. special forces soldier Craig Mackenzie, who in the prologue is seen engaging in a dangerous 2008 mission in Afghanistan. It goes awry, and Mackenzie is forced to disobey orders to save the life of his fellow soldier, Reed (Freddy Rodriguez), who is about to be tortured by a corrupt CIA agent, Mason (Colm Meaney).

Cut to four years later, when the two men, who have been dishonorably discharged, are barely making ends meet in Montana. So when they’re presented with an unusual employment offer by the exotic Cecilia (Oksana Korostyshevskaya--try putting that on a marquee) and her brother Ernesto (Ryan Donowho), they reluctantly agree.

The siblings are members of a resistance movement on an island in the Black Sea named -- wait for it -- Snake Island. It’s ruled by a ruthless dictator, Colonel Lupo (Gennadi Vengerov), along with his daughter and, you guessed it, now former CIA operative Mason, who handles his security.

Here’s where the proceedings get seriously silly. The two men’s job is to safeguard a group of millionaires who have signed on to participate in a mock military mission that is apparently the rebels’ plan to raise money for their insurgency. They include a slimy banker (Charlie Brewley), an elderly cell phone company CEO (James Cromwell), a video game designer (Dominic Monaghan), a rich businessman (Sean Bean) and an African arms dealer (Ving Rhames) who calls himself the Grim Reaper.

Naturally, things don’t go quite as planned, with Mackenzie and Reed suddenly forced to lead this motley crew in an all-too-real fight for their lives against the villainous Lupo and his forces.

The sort of sub-standard action fare best appreciated on late night cable with pizza and beer, Soldiers of Fortune quickly degenerates into a series of violent set-pieces poorly orchestrated by director Maxim Korostyshevsky in which Cromwell--best known as the kindly farmer in Babe -- becomes the most unlikely cinematic bad-ass ever.   

Slater, who is really far too talented for this sort of thing, is less than convincing in his Clint Eastwood-style role, while the other actors mainly seem to be biding time while waiting for a more prestigious project to come along.

Opened Aug. 3 (Roadside Attractions)
Production: Globus-film, Jeff Most Productions, Most/Rice Films, Most Films
CAST: Christian Slater, Sean Bean, Ving Rhames, Dominic Monaghan, Colm Meaney, Freddy Rodriguez, James Cromwell, Oxana Korostyshevskaya, Charlie Bewley, Ryan Donowho, Gennadi Vengerov
Director: Maxim Korostyshevsky
Screenwriters: Alexandra Coscas, Robert Crombie, Joe Kelbley
Producers: Robert Crombie, Jay Ellison, Jeff Most, Natalya Smirnova
Executive producers: Jeff Rice, Richard Salvatore
Director of photography: Masha Solovyova
Editors: Timothy Alverson, Igor Litoninskiy, Jen Ruvalcaba, Danny Saphire, Jason Yanuzzi
Production designer: Nikolai Ryabtsey
Costume designer: Natalya Sokolava
Music: Joseph LoDuca
Rated R, 94 min.