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SOLDIERS OF FORTUNE (2012) ** ½

Christian Slater stars an ex-soldier in desperate need of money. He grudgingly takes a job training billionaires for a fake war games operation out of Bulgaria. When they wind up squaring off against real, fully-armed mercenaries, Slater and his men have to band together to stay alive.

Soldiers of Fortune feels like a serious shot-in-Bulgaria DTV action flick version of City Slickers. Instead of tourists on a cattle drive getting more than they bargained for with a real-life adventure, it’s a bunch of tourists playing war games. The story is decent enough I suppose. The direction is tight, and there are a handful of nice action sequences, and a few genuine laughs. It’s just a shame that after the solid set-up, the film gives way and becomes a pretty generic actioner.

The film is anchored by a great cast. Slater is excellent as the weathered soldier who has to babysit a bunch of spoiled billionaires under fire. The supporting players are equally fine. Ving Rhames, James Cromwell, Sean Bean, and Dominic Monaghan are a lot of fun as the pampered tourists and Colm Meany does a good job as the ex-CIA villain. And while the actors don’t exactly save the movie, they at least elevate the material to near-respectable heights.

The action is pretty straightforward for the most part. The shootouts aren’t too bad, but the final face-off between Slater and Meany is a bit lackluster. I did like the scene where two gals played chicken on jet skis though.

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