Bullet Points: Mercenary II: Thick & Thin
It has often been said that the third time’s a charm… that old saying rings true in regards to fourth string action star, Olivier Gruner, and his coverage here on Bulletproof Action.
Back in January, my colleague Chad Cruise reviewed the site’s first Gruner movie when he gave a less than stellar review for the movie Gruner is most known for, Nemesis. Then back in April I tortured myself by watching Gruner in The Circuit.
Some sites may have thrown in the towel in regards to Gruner films after such a dubious start. But that’s not our style here at Bulletproof Action. We are all about second chances, third chances, even fourth chances if needed. Fortunately for me, Mercenary 2: Thick and Thin was not half bad.
- The Not So Secret Formula: One of the reasons that Mercenary 2 is watchable, is the fact that Gruner has not been put in the position to carry the movie. Movies that put Gruner in that spot are setting him and the movie up to fail. Robert Townsend actually gets top billing in Mercenary 2. Gruner, who is still the “action star” of the movie, gives Mercenary 2 “action movie legitimacy”. This formula works. In addition to Townsend, the film also stars Nicholas Turturro, who plays Gruner’s partner and mouth piece for the early portion of the film (another smart move). And Claudia Christian, of Substitute 3 fame, plays one of the antagonists in the film and does a fantastic job as the overachieving business woman who has become drunk with power and crossed the line. Surround a weaker action star with stronger actors and your odds of success increase ten fold.
- The Premise: I don’t recall the location of the film ever being spelled out, but I’m working on the assumption it is somewhere in South America. Townsend plays Charlie Love, a business associate of Claudia Christian’s character, Patricia van Lier. The two have a falling out when Patricia takes her “killer” reputation in the business world and actually kills some natives who own the rights to a piece of land she wants. Charlie wants no part of Patricia’s dirty business so he decides to reach out to the Internal Revenue Service so he can spill the beans on Patricia’s less than ethical/legal business practices. Obviously Patricia doesn’t want this to happen so she has her own personal army hunt him down, but Charlie seeks refuge with the one person in the region who isn’t under Patricia’s thumb… a drug czar named Holden (John Dennis Johnston). Patricia decides to hire the best mercenary in the business, Captain Carl May aka Hawk (Olivier Gruner) and his partner Major Ray Domino (Nicholas Turturro) to bring Charlie back to her. But she gives the fake story that Holden kidnapped Charlie and sells it like Charlie is her lover and that she is willing to pay any amount of money in the world to get him back. Hawk and Domino buy the story hook, line and sinker.
- Love/Hawk Relationship: Hawk and Charlie Love don’t get off on the right foot. Charlie was more than happy hanging out with some ladies at Holden’s compound when he is “rescued” by Hawk. But eventually Charlie figures out Patricia’s scheme and he and Hawk get on the same page. Good thing too since they still have Patricia’s soldiers of fortune, Holden and his army, plus some less than friendly natives to contend with.
Mercenary II: Thick and Thin is by no means the greatest action movie of all-time, but it is one of the better Olivier Gruner action movies I have ever seen. And I’m well aware that last statement isn’t saying much but sometimes you need to embrace the small victories in life. And I consider making it through an entire Olivier Gruner film without despising it a small victory for sure.
Townsend does his job, providing some comic relief and being the glue that holds the whole story together. Claudia Christian holds up her end of the deal, delivering a convincing performance as a dangerous villainous, who has the smarts and the looks to cause a lot of trouble. And while you can certainly deny the acting skills of Olivier Gruner, you can’t argue he has paid his dues in the world of action movies.
Here are a few more Bullet Points to give you the skinny on Thick and Thin…
- Fish Out of Water: This was a first for me, I actually saw Nicholas Turturro in something where he was not playing a cop for the NYPD. As long as I don’t count his guest appearance at WrestleMania XI in Hartford.
- Better Than Stripes: At one point after being taken captive by some drug dealing natives, Hawk and Love escape after Hawk throws some marijuana on the fire, putting the entire village in a mellow mood. It reminded me of an awful deleted scene from the classic movie Stripes and in this one instance and only this instance, Mercenary II: Thick and Thin was better than Stripes.
- The Man with No Name: Hawk and Domino are assisted by a tech guy played by Sam Bottoms, who for whatever reason is never referred to by name. How hard would it have been to say, “Hey Stu, activate Hawk’s GPS.” Or something to that effect?