Soldiers of Fortune is an awful movie. I was sucked in by a great cast, but came away looking to get back 93 minutes of my life.
A veteran of 20-plus Special Ops mission, Capt. Craig McKenzie (Christian Slater) saves his friend and partner, Reed (Freddy Rodriguez), on a mission in Afghanistan, disregarding orders to abandon the mission in the time being. Both men are dishonorably discharged and find out that life back in the real world isn't so easy. McKenzie though is offered a job for a unique company. Extravagantly rich businessman pay exorbitant funds to a mysterious corporation (with ties to freedom fighters) to feel the thrill of real combat. These men need protection though on their mission, and McKenzie and Reed step in for what they hope to be a payday. Working with a group of five very rich men, they go on a training crash course, but none of them know what the mission holds.
I watched this trailer, and all the while, I knew it wouldn't be good. Still, there was something oddly appealing about it....mostly because of the cast. Not surprisingly though, the trailer was a tad misleading. It presents a story of these millionaires going on "a mission" where they get to play toy soldier. In actuality? They're actually going on a mission to an island in Eastern Europe run by a psychotic officer, Col. Lupo (Gennadi Vengerov), and his army of mercenaries. To do so, the millionaires pay a hefty fee that goes to the freedom fighters battling Lupo. Convoluted, stupid, and almost insulting in its idiocy, the story takes whatever small potential it has, balls it up and throws it out the window.
A mind-boggingly stupid story is one thing. But how about that stupid story with every action stereotype ever thrown into the story? This is The Expendables, but not good (and that movie wasn't great itself). The script is laughable, packing a convoluted, contrived backstory, introduces our millionaires, requisite training montage, and then the half-baked mission that goes awry instantly. The Col. Lupo appears as a dictator caricature with equally psychotic daughter, Magda (Sarah Ann Schultz), at his side, and backing from the mysterious CIA agent, Mason (Colm Meaney). Stereotypes and cliches can be acceptable -- even congratulated -- when used correctly, but this ends up being horrifically hilarious. At one point, McKenzie ends up fighting a black jump suit wearing Mason on top of a cliff. By then, I was fast-forwarding as fast as the DVD would allow.
Just to clear things up, I won't be giving this a positive review (stunning, I know), but the lightest shred of decency does come from the casting. The fun is in the millionaire quintet, all on the dangerous mission for a reason. Start with Sean Bean as Roman St. John, an extravagantly decadent guy who usually travels with an entourage of beautiful women. Then, Ving Rhames (rocking an epic accent) as Grimaud Tourneur, an arms deal who wants to be a part of combat. Third, Dominic Monaghan as Tommy Sin, a ridiculously successful video game designer wanting to experience the real thing. Next up, Charlie Bewley as Vanderbeer, a youngster running a hedge fund. And last, James Cromwell as Sam Hausman, an aging businessman who's experienced just about everything the world has to offer. None of the parts are particularly good or even well-written, but seeing Bean, Rhames, Monaghan and Cromwell together provides a few bright spots, however few.
That's about it though. Chrisian Slater looks beyond bored, ranging back and forth between upset, really upset, and I'M YELLING SO I MUST BE UPSET mode. Oksana Korostyshevskaya plays Cecelia, the group's on-island source, leaving little impression. Filmed in the Ukraine for about $8 million, 'Fortune' tries to make the most of its limitations, but it falls short in a big way. The action scenes are dull, relying on massive explosions to distract us I assume. Packing a lot into 94 minutes -- convoluted story, betrayals, lots of characters -- ends up being its death knell. It seemed like a movie that could, would and should be enjoyable, but it isn't. Steer clear.
Soldiers of Fortune (2012): */****