Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
Dang Christian Slater… Get off my freaking TV!  I realize a lot of this Christian Slater assault is of my own doing since I could choose not to watch a lot of these movies, but I kind of pick these at random and at this point in time it looks as if it would take some concerted effort on my part to avoid Mr. Slater.  I mean my man is wrenching the mantle of Straight to DVD king from the usual suspects as he is putting out product with a frequency that has Steven Seagal's head swimming.  Just got through watching him play a pedophile in the horror movie 'Playback', there were two subpar westerns we probably should've skipped past, another action movie with Donald Sutherland that wasn't so bad, The River Murders, Without Men, Rites of Passage, El Gringo, Sacrifice…  We've seen them all and Christian… it's not always pretty.  Today's Christian Slater joint, with tomorrow's probably being something else, is an odd action film called 'Soldiers of Fortune' which is loaded with all kinds of acting talent stuck in a completely disposable movie.  Calling it disposable doesn't mean I'm saying it's not worth watching, because 'Soldiers of Fortune' has its moments, it's just a little strange to see the level and quantity of acting types in this kind of movie, though I have my theory as to how this happened and it involves big paychecks. 

Craig McKenzie is a badass Special Ops badass on a mission somewhere in the Middle East in 2008 when his partner Reed (Freddie Rodriguez) gets trapped behind enemy lines.  Wearing a dress.  Don't ask.  The Man tells McKenzie to stand down and abort for some reason or another, but his boy is in trouble and he can't follow that order.  He busts in the compound, casually walks through the compound killing
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Arab-types who stand there and allow themselves to get shot… even though he doesn't kill the kid who pointed a Kalakov at him, more on that in a second… then frees his boy from the grips of some evil CIA agent (Colm Meany).  Next thing you know McKenzie and his boy are slo-mo walking while he presses the button and levels the entire compound in the background.  Including that kid.  Wassup with that?

Fast forward four years where McKenzie and Reed are dishonorably discharged vets who are broke as a joke.  Why Reed was dishonored is a mystery to us, since he broke no rules that we were aware of, but we will roll with it.  Reed is about to lose his house, and he gets a quick visit from his baby girl and his wife who tells how much he loves them.  Damn Reed… and I liked you.  Fortunately all their financial troubles will be solved via one of the dumbest, albeit original plot devices I've ever encountered. 

To gloss over it, rebels from a small oppressed country have created a real life mercenary training playground for the super wealthy to fund a weapons purchase for their fight against the evil Colonel Lupo (Gennadi Vengerov) to get their country back, and Cecilia (Oksana Korostyshevskaya), the rebel behind this cockamamie plan, needs McKenzie and Reed to act as trainers to lend legitimacy to their plan, and protect these fat cats while they train them.  Got it?  These rich guys are Dimidov the playboy (Sean Bean), Grimaud the African gun merchant (Ving Rhames), Mason the violent videogame designer (Dominic Monaghan), Haussman the old rich dude (James Cromwell) and Vanderbeer the investment banker (Charlie Bewley).  The plan, as it were, is to train these dudes, sneak them on the island along with the gun cache, run some fake maneuvers, then get them off the island safe and sound.  Got it?

It doesn't work.  Lupo finds out, his right hand man happens to be the the evil CIA agent we met earlier, somebody important to McKenzie gets blown to bits, we're not going to say who, one of our fat cats is stabbing us in the back, and McKenzie swears to try to finish his promise to save these people who he is in charge of, and maybe, if time allows, free a small nation from the grips of tyranny.

If we were to base the worth of 'Soldiers of Fortune' on the narrative alone, fully aware that the number one factor of any story based form of entertainment is the story itself, we would be forced to call 'Soldiers of Fortune' one of the worst movies ever made.  I would call it 'plot hole ridden' but the whole thing is just one big hole.  It truly… truly makes no sense in any way, shape or form.  It's almost impossible to wrap your brain around anything that's happening in this movie as you could probably pick any point at any time as a demonstration of the storytelling incompetence in this one, simply filled with moments that leaves the viewer slack jawed saying 'wha…'?  I'll pick one, just for fun.  The rebel tells McKenzie that they can sneak on the dark side of the island because it's unprotected.  McKenzie thinks that makes sense.  My question is… if you are an evil dictator who has taken over a very small island and have to kill rebel forces on a daily basis, would you leave an entire section of your tiny island completely unguarded?  And if you are a seasoned, decorated U.S. American soldier special ops badass, would that make sense to you?  The whole movie is insanely silly. 

Here's the thing though.  While the story is completely awful, movies have the unique ability, unlike other storytelling venues, to skate by on other stuff if the filmmakers are lucky.  The cast in this movie is outstanding and they were acting in this completely disposable movie as if they were paid to be outstanding.  Director Maxim Korostyshevsky obviously paid attention during film school as his movie is filled with wonderfully lit and framed shots, beautiful sweeping vistas, the action sequences are above average and he paces it quickly, though there's not enough speed in the world to race past this films egregious narrative flaws.

What I'm saying is that 'Soldiers of Fortune', if you are the forgiving type, and I'm talking Jesus Christ dying for our sins type forgiveness, then this movie can be stupid fun.  However if you can't get past the critical flaws in 'Soldiers of Fortune', which are fatal for the most part, believe me… I do understand.
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