Based on a gripping Frederick Forsyth novel, THE DOGS OF WAR is a slickly made actioner about a cold-blooded mercenary whose political conscience is heightened somewhat by a particularly nasty war in Africa. The story centers on Shannon (Walken), an American soldier of fortune who, in the exciting opening scene, is shown with some of his mercenary buddies fighting to catch the last plane out of a war-torn country. Shannon is then hired by a powerful American businessman (Millais) to overthrow a small government in Africa. To prepare for the coup, Shannon visits the country in the guise of a nature photographer. The government, however, becomes suspicious and throws him in jail. Between torture sessions, Shannon meets an imprisoned dissident political leader, from whom he learns more about the country's political struggles. Eventually Shannon is deported, but he returns with a group of mercenaries and, with some Africans hired by his employer, makes an impressive raid on a military outpost that is also the headquarters of the country's dictator. While competently directed by John Irvin (RAW DEAL, HAMBURGER HILL), who knows how to deliver a well-crafted action film, THE DOGS OF WAR suffers from a lack of character development that may leave some viewers cold. No new light is shed on those men who choose to be soldiers of fortune in this exceedingly well-shot (by Jack Cardiff) action film that will evaporate from the memory shortly after the end credits roll.