Hmmmm, well it’s safe to say Seagal’s new flick doesn’t exactly stray from his recent formula (he punches a lot of people, refuses to even attempt acting in any non-punching scenes) and (this has no doubt been said many, many times by other like minded reviewers/critics, including myself) a long way away from the likes of Out for Justice and Under Siege. Hell, it’s possible it doesn’t even reach Mercenary for Justice like levels of passable entertainment (the goateed one’s 2009 action team up with Luke Goss, fact fans!). However, it is better than a lot of Seagal’s other direct-to-DVD output (The Foreigner, Attack Force and, shudder, Into the Sun) but that’s mainly down to the inclusion of Byron Mann and some half decent, and brutal, action scenes.
One knows the drill by now (assuming one is into Seagal/straight-to-DVD/non mainstream cinema): Seagal is some sort of military/assassin bad ass, who along with his buddy Chi (Mann), are tasked with killing some sort of rich dude douche bag (who just wants to get high, sleep with some hookers!), which they do with consummate skill. However, things take a turn for the worse when the two are celebrating their completed mission (smoking cigars and shit) and cross the path of a foxy blonde chick who is attempting to run away from weirdo creep Vinnie Jones. For reasons inexplicably convoluted, Seagal decides to protect the woman (and bed her: of course!) and go after Jones (who, obviously, has connections with everybody else Seagal has worked for/knows!) as it’s his chance for absolution: which he actually takes the time to make a speech about. Groan! Fights, explosions, copious use of a double and an awkward romance/sex scene ensue: so business as usual for Seagal.
Despite all the haughty comments above (and the seeming need to tear down Segal whenever one does a review of his films!), Mercenary: Absolution is fairly entertaining action trash. Seagal, despite still using a double quite a bit, seems to actually be in this film for a change. Sure, he is completely despondent every time he is asked to speak any dialogue but at least throws his fists around in some hard hitting fight scenes. Luckily, Byron Mann is on hand to do all the heavy hitting and proves quite a fighter in his various action scenes: not least his fight with UFC fighter Josh Barnett in a nightclub. It’s brutally staged action, we can see, and the two of them really should have been the leads. Jones does his obligatory extended cameo/psycho bit and, well, everything builds to the inevitable showdown between everybody where bones are broken, glass is shattered and faces are punched.
Mercenary: Absolution is perfunctory action entertainment with Seagal doing his thing (and is also apparently a sequel to his film A Good Man) and if that is one’s thing then one will probably be entertained.
Mercenary: Absolution is out now in the UK from High Fliers Films.
Review by Andrew Skeates