Starring: Christian Slater, Sean Bean, Ving Rhames
You may like this if you liked: The Expendables (Sylvester Stallone, 2010), The A-Team (Joe Carnahan, 2010), Cliff hanger (Renny Harlin, 1993)
The term Soldiers of Fortune basically refers to billionaires who can pay to be involved in combat for ‘bragging rights’ apparently but without the danger of ever potentially getting injured. No, I don’t know either! To make sure that these wealthy men are in safe hands, the company that runs this thing persuades Craig McCenzie (Slater) a disgraced ex army officer who has a record of not a single man under his command dying. The mission is some utter nonsense involving a supposedly safe island where they are to drop some supplies. Surprisingly enough things go wrong, and the other actually trained soldiers are all killed leaving McCenzie and his motley crew of B movie actors. There is also some cut and pasted plot involving the island being run by an evil dictator who partners a dodgy CIA agent (who is the reason McCenzie was forced to leave the army) as well as some rare minerals and weapons exporting cartel. Can McCenzie and his band of merry men over power this generic nasty army and conveniently liberate the island? Sounds epic doesn’t it?
Ten or so years ago the likes of Christian Slater, Ving Rhames and Sean Bean were reasonably big names and turned up in decent blockbusters, however since then as they have got a bit older (but apparently less wiser) they have a tendency to turn up in low budget straight to DVD B movies. Here we have all three of them together! So not exactly brimming with potential!
There was actually potential here as SOF could have been a fun jolly boys outing of B list actors, unfortunately it seems that only Bean is enjoying himself while all the others appear to be taking their roles extremely seriously in some failed attempt to reinvigorate their declining careers. The whole thing for this reason and that director Maxim Korostyshevsky (really?) thinks he is actually making a serious and bold action flick. There almost seems to be an attempt to make a new Dirty (half) Dozen which makes the whole thing feel a little contrived, especially with a clichéd ‘rousing’ score being turned up to 11 at any available opportunity.
It is just about entertaining enough as you cannot help but simply laugh at it as it falls into every narrative trap inevitable including plot holes, clichéd one liners, a vengeance story for the protagonist, predictable double crossing, dodgy CIA agents and a nasty Eastern European dictator complete with his band of generic Eastern European heavies. Yes I know most action films have this, but this usually comes with redeeming features such a sense of fun, good action and likeable characters. Even the cut and pasted story is surprisingly slow and takes ages to get going, this is probably an attempt at ‘character development’, but it just exposes the clunky dialogue even more.
The only thing memorable about the whole experience is that you will be racking your brains as to what they spent the apparent $8million budget on. Though maybe not the budget of Avatar, it would be perfectly reasonable to expect some decent action set pieces for that kind of money. There is surprisingly little action and the closing scene is so extremely random that you cannot help but laugh. Ok, so maybe I am be a little harsh as SOF is not horrific and works ok as something to have on in the background if you have a few mates round. Trust me; in a genre that is already over cluttered, there are plenty of better alternatives. Just to clarify, this is still better than Taken 2 though!
Soldiers of Fortune is basically dumb without the fun. Don’t be pulled in by the lure of the reasonably famous cast and ‘surprisingly’ half decent budget. The terrible acting, clunky script and shoddy action can only mean that Soldiers of Fortune basically only works as a parody and bugger all else. If you ever have $8million in your pocket and fancy making an action film, make Soldiers of Fortune your first port of call in a lesson in exactly how not to make one.