01st Jun2015

‘Mercenary: Absolution’ VOD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Steven Seagal, Byron Mann, Vinnie Jones, Howard Dell, Adina Stetcu, Josh Barnett, Maria Bata, Dominte Cosmin, Sergiu Costache, George Remes | Written by Keoni Waxman, Richard Beattie | Directed by Keoni Waxman


Mercenary: Absolution is the latest direct to market offering from action superstar Steven Seagal and marks the sixth time Seagal has worked with director/producer Keoni Waxman, previous films including Force of Execution, A Dangerous Man as well as the fantastic Maximum Conviction. Waxman also helmed a number of episodes of Seagal’s TV show, True Justice (released here in the UK as a series of direct to DVD “movies” starting with Deadly Crossing).

This time round Seagal stars as contract killer John Alexander (not to be confused with contract killer/mercenary John Seeger from Seagal’s 2006 offering Mercenary For Justice) who – after fulfilling his latest mission to take out an arms dealer – encounters a girl on the run from a dangerous mob boss (Jones) with powerful political ties, running a human trafficking operation, leaving him torn between protecting the girl and remaining loyal to the government agency that hired him.

These days you know what to expect from a Steven Seagal movie. Except that is when it’s directed by Keoni Waxman and written by Richard Beattie – the duo behind not only this film but also Force of Execution, Maximum Conviction AND the TV show True Justice. In other words, the duo behind Seagal’s best latter-day work!

You see Waxman and Beattie have, somehow, together found a way to work with the ageing action star in a way that no other writer or director has. They manage to bring out the best in Seagal, the story and the action. Usually on what looks like a shoe-string budget. Gone are the days of Belly of the Beast, where Seagal was clearly, and quite awkwardly, body-doubled in his fight scenes (although I’m sure I spotted one or two doubled scenes here too); and gone are the close-up fight scenes which usually focus on Seagal’s hand-to-hand combat skills… In fact here those skills are in full effect, with Seagal on top arse-kicking form.

How? Well Beattie’s scripts replaces all of the foibles of Seagal’s typical DTV work with one thing – decent co-stars. Most of whom can help Seagal carry the film and the action. In Maximum Conviction it was WWE star Stone Cold Steve Austin; in Force of Execution it was Ving Rhames and Danny Trejo; here it’s Byron Mann – who previously worked with Seagal on the aforementioned Belly of the Beast and A Dangerous Man – who brings much needed excitement to the films action scenes as well as taking the brunt of the films stunt work. Mann also does a LOT of the leg work in this film, leaving Seagal to pop in and out of the film where needed, without it ever feeling like this ISN’T totally a Steven Seagal movie…

Mercenary: Absolution also sees Seagal star alongside Vinnie Jones, who himself has carved out a niche in DTV action movies and who here gets to flex some bad-guy muscle as the mob boss who runs a human trafficking operation and likes to beat pretty girls to death on camera as a side-line. Nice guy really. As always Vinnie Jones makes for a great villain, although when does he ever disappoint when he plays evil bastards? Thus the stage is set for a great good-guy vs. bad-guy tête-à-tête, and Seagal and co. do not disappoint – even if Jones’ character plays the bitch card and tries to weasel out of a final fight.

OK, so there’s nothing here that’s going to set the action world alight but for those who love a good old-school, direct to DVD action flick then Mercenary: Absolution won’t disappoint. Seagal, Waxman and Beattie are 3-for-3 so far in my book, roll on their next collaboration!

Mercenary: Absolution is out now digitally on iTunes via Content Media, and on DVD from High Fliers Films.


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