Bullet Points: Mercenaries (2011)
“We’re a rescue team! Not assassins!”
Okay, that isn’t a line from Mercenaries but I never pass up a good opportunity to drop a line from Predator into a post. This film is one that I’ve passed by in the free section on VUDU for some time. The poster they have on the app looks nothing like the movie (big surprise) but you’ll have all the intelligence you need to make your decision if you read ahead. Never take a mission without the proper intelligence. Didn’t these guys ever watch G.I. Joe?
Synopsis: Andy Marlow, an ex British S.A.S serviceman turned mercenary, is sent into the Balkans after a military coup has arisen to rescue a U.S ambassador and his aide.
- Universal Bad Guy: If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that any man with an eyepatch is probably a bad guy. Marvel’s Nick Fury has to be the only character with a patch who isn’t running around committing genocide. Mercenaries opens up with a military coup in progress in the lovely nation of Serbia. The President’s crib is under attack from some dudes in camo and their leader has an eye patch.
- Southern Gentleman: Am I the only one who is just a little be offended by Robert James-Collier’s Southern accent. I mean, I’m not gonna cry about it or write my congressman over it, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t really shitty. He must have seen that Taylor Kitsch movie where he plays Gambit too many times.
- Meet the Crew: An American Ambassador has been taken hostage and the US Government isn’t willing to send any type of troops in for him. Instead, they get a team of mercenaries to go in and rescue the hostages and take the bad guy prisoner. The leader of the team, Andy Marlow, is played by Robert Fucilla and introduced like he’s Hugh Jackman or something. He’s fighting some dudes in a makeshift cage in a shithole bar. As cool as that sounds, it doesn’t work for everyone and I was never convinced that Andy was some badass that would be fighting for fun. I would have preferred for him to be shown drinking himself to death like Martin Sheen in some rat-hole motel. The rest of his crew isn’t actually made up of his own men but at least they’re guys he’s worked with in the past.
- Infil: The team gets dropped off at some little shack and walks their way into the town to get the hostages. The amount of intel they’re given about the operation by the great Billy Zane is downright unfair. Billy is pretty good as the Colonel in charge of the mission. He pops onto camera a few times and gives some important information in a dramatic way. I’m sure he was only on set for one or two days but they made the most out of his role. The team, however, make the most out of getting themselves into some shit as they make a detour to save some civilians. Leader Andy is against it, which was kind of weird seeing how he was the main character and all, but it ends up working out in the end.
- Genocide Junkies: The Serbs have committed genocide before. This time, Olodan (Antony Byrne) and Radovic (Michael Nardone) are the two main bad guys but it’s really Radovic that deserves to be feared. Olodan spends most of the movie with a gag in his mouth and unless you’re some 18 year old on Brazzers then that isn’t a profitable way to spend your Saturday.
- Gun Battles: I thought that the shootouts had a certain realism to them. There was a semblance of cover fire coming from the team of mercs and they never knowingly put themselves in position to be shot by someone. Most military movies of the 80’s and 90’s were absolutely terrible when it came to actual tactics. Mercenaries is probably at its best when the bullets start flying. Lucky for them, that is often enough that the movie never drags too much from its lack of good characters or non-mission based plots.
- Exfil: Let’s just say that not all of the team members make it to the end of the movie. The remaining members are trying to extract the hostages and their new prisoner Olodan but seemingly lose their way in the woods. Maybe if they had been given a little more intel in the beginning they wouldn’t have run into that situation! What happens is downright sad. They end up stomping through the woods for far too long, giving the enemy plenty of time to mount a rescue operation of their own for the stolen comrade. It leads to more gun battles, which is the strength of this movie, but it’s upsetting that the mission was this poorly planned.
This review guarantees to not leave you unprepared with these Bonus Bullet Points:
- The American uniform situation in Mercenaries is out of control. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves in movies with military personnel.
- “Keep going, I’ll catch up!” That line might as well be written as, “Hey, I’ll just die here. Keep running without me!”
- Tough guy cage fighter gets his ass kicked by a girl!
- The movie seems hellbent on fitting a romantic element into the movie with one of the hostages and Andy but it just doesn’t fit.
- The hostages can be pretty annoying at times. I tried to think of a time in movie history where that wasn’t the case. Couldn’t think of one movie…
The Verdict: Mercenaries was probably better than it had any right to be. It was written and directed by Paris Leonti and you can tell that he has an eye for action as the camera moved all over the place. I always say that it’s the subtleties that make military movies good. I need to see guys reload, see them pick the dirt out of their front sight posts after diving into an embankment. I love watching people move like they really don’t want to get shot. This movie does some of those things right and it is more than most big budget movies in Hollywood, to be honest. If you’re a fan of military movies, rescue stuff, or just like to see the way that low budget movies can be made and still look good, Mercenaries might be the movie for you.