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.
Nothing to Spoil
I usually don’t go into detailed plot descriptions, and the more I like the movie, the fewer spoilers you will see from me. In the case of Soldiers of Fortune, there is nothing to spoil about the plot, if you can call it that. I hope no one goes to see this so-called action thriller, unless they want to see for themselves how incredibly stupid this picture is. It doesn’t even work as a actioner or treadmill flick, which I love so much. When the visuals and the stunts are brilliant, a dumb plot can be easily forgiven and forgotten. But here, it’s just no use. And no excuse to release such blunt material, not in 2012.
It Does Get Worse
The acting in Soldiers of Fortune is just a shame; kids in kindergarten act better. The view of women is laughable, with hideous makeup and getups to match (lots of black leather and matching eye shadow, tacky as hell). The violence is repulsive without being metafictional or caricaturist, and please, don’t tell me that Korostyshevsky is filming a big statement anti-war movie. The violence is completely unnecessary and graphic in the wrong way: the dictator’s daughter shoots revolutionaries point blank, fountains of black blood spitting out of their mouth; one man gets literally vaporized by a tank at a range so close nothing is left of him; women are shot in the guts; children are carrying automatic weapons like they are plush toys.
Because the premise is so laughable and the execution is in such bad taste, all this excessive drama just adds to the stupidity of the movie, and all these ‘victims’ look increasingly like flies getting squashed against a window glass (with as much attention to their demise as you would pay to a dead fly). I don’t know what all these actors are doing here except getting their bank accounts plumped up; but even at that the addition of Soldiers of Fortune to their CV is humiliating. It took me a great deal not to walk out. I kept thinking there would be something redeeming to it, but alas. It’s pure BS.
Verdict: Soldiers of Fortune doesn’t even do for the treadmill. It’s most likely the worst movie of 2012.