The Last Mercenary review – Van Damme is back in an action-comedy that fails him

July 30, 2021
M.N. Miller 0
Film Reviews, Netflix
2.5

Summary

While I enjoyed Van Damme’s action-comic turn, the rest of the film’s cartoonish vibes and mind-numbing supporting characters are too much for even The Last Mercenary to bear.

2.5

Summary

While I enjoyed Van Damme’s action-comic turn, the rest of the film’s cartoonish vibes and mind-numbing supporting characters are too much for even The Last Mercenary to bear.

This review of the Netflix film The Last Mercenary does not contain spoilers.

For the most part, Jean Claude Van Damme has a lot of fun in the role of Richard in Netflix’s The Last Mercenary. He plays his part a bit goofy and even a little unhinged. You get to see him even dance around a French disco club until he meets his contact, Marguerite (Miou-Miou). He gives off that vibe of your aged secret agent but is unkempt, uncool, and unapologetic about who he is. Nothing like any incarnation of 007. He’s your father’s favorite character from their most watched movie growing up. And you roll your eyes at both in the process.

Though, you can’t be sure if that’s what the filmmakers are going for here because the script’s themes are so convoluted. That premise is ripe with possibilities to play against type, but writer-director David Charhon and scribe Ismael Sy Savane strangely never touch on that topic. Instead, this French action-comedy focuses on combining two styles of the country’s history with comedy.

You have Samir Decazza’s Archibald, lost son of Van Damme’s Richard, who plays the French 90s naive, dumb idiot. This, somehow, helps him beat the villain, or have Van Damme’s character pull him out of the fire. To a lesser extent, you have the hero’s do terrible things to protect their son even though he looks like a harmless older man. It should work much better than the final product, with most of its jokes missing the mark, and with the Archibald character far too naive for his age.

Again, your enjoyment of The Last Mercenary may land on whether you are a fan of French comedy. The rest of the supporting characters are a mixed bag; of pure stupidity and adolescent humor that mix with the above styles and themes like oil and water.

You have a government operation that refers to an old code name, “Cup and Balls”. This is frequently supposed to elicit laughs and amusement. While it also doubles as telling the backstory of the film’s main character, it doesn’t work. Alban Ivanov’s Alexandre and Eric Judor’s Paul are poorly drawn as witless yuppie characters. That goes double for Nassim Lye’s crazed, coked-out criminal diplomat. Every supporting character is an over-the-top caricature.

I’ll admit I enjoyed the film more than I thought and was pleasantly surprised by Van Damme’s performance. His endearing need to save and get to know his son and openly disprove his shortcomings can be amusing. The action does even tend to satisfy. However, the rest of the film has cartoonish vibes, mind-numbing supporting characters, and moronic plot-driven dialogue that is too much for even The Last Mercenary to bear.

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