Review: THE MERCENARY (2019)
It’s one of the oldest plots going and a staple of action movies, from any number of Asian martial arts films through the first John Wick film. A man of violence tries to leave it all behind and live a quiet, peaceful life. But his past comes back to haunt him. Noted action director Jesse V. Johnson (Avengement, The Debt Collector) and writer David Filmore give us their take on it in The Mercenary, (formerly Legion Maxx). Can they add anything new to this old chestnut?
Maxx (Dominiquie Vandenberg, Triple Threat, Gangs Of New York) is a former Legionnaire turned mercenary. He works for LeClerk (Louis Mandylor, Bring Him Back Dead, Battle Drone) and he’s damn good at what he does. Along with Rodriguez (Brad Ashten, Harvest Moon), Notch (Robb Zbacnik), Hammaford (Jeremiah B. McQueen, Bus Party To Hell, Accident Man), Wilson (Geordie Robinson) and Magpie (Alina Andrei) killing is their business. And business is good.
Or was good until a mission to take out a cocaine operation in South America goes wrong. Maxx suffers a leg injury from a blast. Then he sees one of his teammates trying to rape one of the cartel women. Killing women is one thing, rape is another, For his troubles, he gets his throat cut and left for dead.
He finds his way to a nearby village where he meets Father Elias (Carmen Argenziano, Future World, Broken Arrow) who nurses him back to health. He grows to enjoy the simple, peaceful life in the village. But he’s forced to fight when two local goons try to abduct one of the women. And it turns out they work for LeClerk who’s still in the area. Now he has to fight against those he once fought beside.
After starring Scott Adkins in five of his last six films it was odd seeing Johnson directing The Mercenary without him. Vandenberg is a formidable screen presence however and carries the role off well. And if his bio is real and not the work of some PR guy he should be able to. He’s got a future as long as he sticks to roles that let his hands and feet do the talking.
The action is plentiful and well done. The Mercenary opens with a montage of their missions in Africa and the Middle East before dropping them into Colombia. We get to see what all of them can do with an assortment of weapons and their bare hands. The highlight sees Maxx going from a sniper to taking out thirteen terrorists up close and personal. This sets up the final act nicely as we know just how lethal everyone involved is.
And that last act is a fairly nonstop series of bloody action scenes. The tone is darker than Johnson’s usual, and a lot messier, including a fairly graphic disembowelling. He takes Father Elias’ comment that God may have intended him to fight evil through more direct methods quite literally. Granted, I had to chuckle, knowing he was only there because one group of evil men hired him to kill another group, but it still sounds good.
An action film that delivers the goods, The Mercenary will be available on January 7th from Uncork’d Entertainment. The film has a Facebook page you can check out while you wait.
Original Legion Maxx Trailer