Title: Soldiers of Fortune
Cast: Christian Slater, Ving Rhames, Sean Bean
Directed by: Maxim Korostyshevsky
Yet another B-grade Christian Slater film. First the disastrous Assassin’s Bullet, now Soldiers of Fortune. While the former is an insult to the intellect, the latter is an insult to common decency. This is apparently Maxim Korostyshevsky’s debut feature film and it shows. In this one, Slater plays Craig McCenzie, a soldier who was dishonorably discharged after refusing to follow orders that would have required him to leave another soldier–a friend, no less–behind to die. Maxim’s directorial debut is pure propaganda at its worst. He makes some half-baked attempts at making war and killing seem so awful, yet when it comes down to the scenes, it plays more like a video game, where each character has suddenly become a war hero and now they’re immune to killing–they are completely unmarked by the real toll it surely takes on a person’s psychological health. Maxim isn’t at all concerned about that though, since there’s money to be made and badass explosions to be filmed. If this is any indication of films to come, then we’re in trouble.
Solders of Fortune follows a ragtag group of wealthy adrenaline seekers who also have some bloodlust. They’re all very different, ranging from Ving Rhames, who plays Grimaud, a wealthy individual who sells weaponry to warlords and tyrants; Dominic Monaghan, who plays Sin, the video game obsessed entrepreneur; Sean Bean plays
Dimidov, who….well, doesn’t do very much, to be honest; James Cromwell, as Haussman, an old man with nothing to lose; and lastly, Charlie Bewley, who plays Vanderbeer, a jerk who is in the midst of a economic crisis. For the most part, they play all of their stereotypes pretty well. Ving Rhames provides some unintentional comedy with his over-the-top accent that sounds hilariously fake. It’s difficult to complain too much about each character because they’re all caricatures; nevertheless, they serve little purpose beyond adding some humor into the story. Sean Bean is completely glossed over for unknown reason, and in exchange for actors who aren’t up to his ability. Maxim attempts to use them as pawns to create some kind of social commentary about war, bloodlust and adrenaline (like Sin with his video games), but it falls apart very quickly because of his contradictory representation of violence.
Whether it’s trying to be an old-school action film from a bygone era, or simply a modern day one, it fails on both accounts. By and large, action movies have dwindled because of their inability to grow. They’re constantly being restrained by genre stereotypes and an audience that refuses to grow along with it, until it ultimately bottoms out and you end up with Soldiers of Fortune. Action films, like Die Hard are long past. In Fortune, you have your protagonist who was once a decorated hero by the United States Army, but now, he’s a layabout trying to earn some cash through a protection agency that he runs out of his trailer. It’s clear that from the get-go that there was very little effort put forth by anyone in the production. Slater doesn’t care, nor does Maxim. Slater portrays no real sense of angst or resentment, making it all the more difficult for us to care at all. From a directorial standpoint, Maxim is reckless and his lack of enthusiasm for the material shows. Even the cinematography is dull to the point of being sleep inducing.
This is a vastly unsuccessful piece of action filmmaking, even by cheap, low-budget action film standards. Just because something is meant to be escapist fun doesn’t necessarily mean that no effort is required. When all is said and done, the ending is a mess of explosions and heavy rock music. Every stereotype imaginable is crammed into this utterly lifeless piece of filmmaking. While you may be wondering if the action is even any good, I can assure you, it’s not–especially when you have other movies in the past several years serving up better set pieces. Maxim makes every attempt to get to the action as soon as possible, but in the process, all of the interesting segments–like the training and the banter between the characters–is lost in the mix. Someone should have reminded him that taking your time isn’t always such a bad thing.