Reel Action: Soldiers of Fortune (2012), starring Christian Slater, Ving Rhames, and Sean Bean

Soldiers of Fortune (2012)
Rating: 1.5 out of 4

Tagline: To stop the worst you have to send in the best.

Directed by:Maxim Korostyshevsky

THE PLAN: A pair of ex-military dudes (Christian Slater and Freddy Rodriguez), who are short on cash, agree to lead a bunch of wealthy guys into combat to overtake an island which was overtaken by some bad guys who like to have a good time by shooting innocent people. Of course, nothing goes according to plan for the team, but the money team quickly learns that if they want to make a difference in the world, they need to shoot somebody.

THE KILL: Let’s get this out of the way immediately, Soldiers of Fortune IS NOT THE EXPENDABLES. Not even a good B (ok, C) version of it. If you watch the trailer, they fooled me into thinking that as it sure does resemble a cheapskate version of the new action franchise. And you know, that’s what I wanted. I expected to see the likes of Slater, Sean Bean, Ving Rhames, Dominic Monaghan, Rodriguez, James Cromwell, and Colm Meaney in a knockoff picture with nonstop stupid action and horrifically amusing dialogue. I was fine with that. I wanted that. That’s how the trailer sold me. Hell, the movie couldn’t even live up to the fake ad within the movie that promised action and entertainment. However, it’s bullshit. I expected cheap, but this is embarrassingly cheap. Seriously, I don’t know how much everyone was paid (the budget was around $8 mil according to IMDB), but it wasn’t worth it. This should have been like a hidden sex tape made with a plump chick. It seemed like a good idea at the time…

Slater, the tough guy.

Instead, I got something so much less. Soldiers of Fortune is barely an action movie with way too much time trying to build on the rapport of the men who know cares about anyway. They're so pencil thin and cliched without any moments. Expendables got that part right, giving characters moments here and there so we cared at least a little about them. Soldiers of Fortune gives us quick snapshots of what assholes these characters are as extremely rich people who are bored with life. Wow. That really makes you root for them. . At least give them some lame backstory. Anything to add some drama.

From an action perspective, this movie blows. Nothing happens until at least 45 minutes in. Oh wait, I forgot about the dramatic beginning where badass soldier Slater (Really? Slater, the badass war soldier?!?) has to go into a terrorist stronghold solo to rescue his stupid partner who went in undercover only to get caught. This sequence is so bad, so stupid that maybe if I rewatch it might be enjoyable. Slater knocks off a bunch of bad guys with a silenced machine gun, but I kept thinking he was shooting a paint ball rifle. Even worse, since when do military uniforms just have a generic US imprinted on it. Don’t we even use flags anymore?

Anyway, the film does pick up steam, but with a two-hour run, it takes its sweet time. At least it rewards with a tank battle, giant machine guns (courtesy of Mr. Rhames), and a handful of nice shootouts. Oh, and there’s the ridiculously over the top finale complete with an epic Sea Doo battle with two chicks! Nothing overly memorable though, but it does try at the end as it finally deliver the goods after… a….long…wait.

Casting Slater is pathetic. He never looks nor sounds the part. Even worse, he can’t carry the picture or even deliver a line without sounding smarmy. He needs to start over. And as much as I dug little Dominic from Lost, it’s time to reinvent himself too perhaps, because he was strictly annoying here. On the flipside, why even cast the other characters if they aren’t going to play into audience expectations. Rhames, for the first time in his career, plays a pussy. Sure, he’s an international arms dealer from Africa, but he’s a pussy, getting slapped around and beaten up repeatedly. Likewise, Bean always plays a badass, but as a rich playboy looking for fun? Please. Why not cast him in the Slater role? At least that would have given the movie more credibility because Slater looks and sounds more like the rich asshole. And I hate saying that because Slater actually was a badass back in the day. But either he’s an asshole, a shitty actor, or has a terrible agent, but he’s now lost in a land of ruled Val Kilmer and Cuba Gooding Jr.

Mr. Bean forgot his working clothes.

The two actors worthy of credit come from James Cromwell, who always gives a film an extra layer of depth, and Colm Meaney, who wasted this performance. I’m not saying dude was Oscar worthy, but he could easily play the bad guy in something grander. He’s nasty mean here as expected, but Meaney looks like he’s loving the gig. Maybe I have a fondness for the guy because of his Star Trek days, but it made me wish he’d land a few meatier roles more often. Not this shit.

So…what did I learn? Well, not a lot I guess except that if I want certain type of film, always stick with the brand name.

TOP ACTION: Well, tough to say, but probably when the evil army mows down an entire village, killing everyone in sight while our heroes watch safely above. That or Cromwell’s mildly epic gun battle.

TOP DEATH: Two worthy contenders. 1) Rodriguez’s death because it’s so stupid and obvious (spoiler, he gets blown up). 2) Even better perhaps, a rebel tries to fight back against the evil forces, only to take a tank blast to the face. Ouch.

TOP DIALOGUE: Terribly dumb. Meaney states the eye roller, “Welcome to Snake Island, gentlemen. You may never leave.”

HOMOEROTIC MOMENT: Well, Ving’s patching of Dominic’s shot leg is awkward to say the least.

FEMALE EXPLOITATION: No nudity, but the epic Sea Doo battle is sorta awesome, but there’s some chicks firing machine guns in bikinis, which is good, but it only last a second.

DRINKING GAME: Every time Slater acts take a sip of something strong.

TRIVIA: The movie was shot on the cheap in the Ukraine, which actually explains a lot.

At least these girls had a good time.

Tags: reel action



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