Soldiers of Fortune is a film by Maksim Korostyshevsky filmed in Ukraine on a budget of $8 million. The film opens in Afghanistan, where U.S. special forces soldier Craig McCenzie (Christian Slater) is on a mission investigating the presence of Taliban fighters in the village. Things go badly and he is discharged thanks to alleged CIA agent Carter Mason, played by Colm Meaney. So far, so serious.
Back in the U.S., there is a big fight during which a lot of people are killed, but then again it’s not a real fight – all is staged to entice Craig back into the game. Cecilia (Oxana Korostyshevskaya, who didn’t get the role because she can act) smiles sweetly at him and asks the former soldier, who has difficulty making ends meet with his security firm stationed in a roadside trailer, to guard the security of five millionaires, who want to experience the thrill of war ‘safely’ and bring freedom to an enigmatic Snake Island...
The island once belonged to Ukraine/Romania but is now in the hands of a vicious dictator Colonel Lupo (Gennadi Vengerov) and his blood-thirsty daughter Magda (Sarah Ann Schultz), who hired a bunch of fighters with the money from metals the island is rich in (no kidding). The five millionaires are a metals magnate (Sean Bean), a telecom CEO (James Cromwell), an arms dealer (Ving Rhames), a game designer (Dominic Monaghan), and a banker (Charlie Bewley). They are to train at a boot camp in Romania as seen in the trailer, then move to the island to play their game, backed up by soldiers who are supposed to keep them safe. But everything goes wrong, of course, and after a couple of explosions, only the five rich dudes and McCenzie survive, to be greeted by remorseful Cecilia after they use a Battleship zig zag trick to get to the shore… And the believability of the plot is: 2,5 on a scale of 10.
One question: what characterization? The money bags in Soldiers of Fortune are cartoons, everything they do is so predictable your eyes will bleed. I mean, what could a game designer be interested in, not butterflies, by any chance, or the Impressionists, or origami? Of course he is hooked to a game he invented at all times. Then there is the cliché twist: at first they act like assholes, joke around with weapons, disregarding security issues and authority commands, laughing at the danger they are in. After a staged attack, they miraculously turn into polite and diligent students, taking every exercise so seriously as if it’s action already – you almost hear the click of the magic wand in the background. (Makes me remember those essays I wrote in second grade about how my puppy died, and how it changed my life forever.) But the biggest embarrassment in this movie is Magda, the ‘embodiment of evil’. It’s so shameful it isn’t even funny.