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  Mercenary: Absolution, The Big Hero Tricks
Year: 2015
Director: Keoni Waxman
Stars: Steven Seagal, Byron Mann, Josh Barnett, Adina Stetcu, Massimo Dobrovic, Vinnie Jones, Howard Dell, Maria Bata, Sabina Branduse, Dominte Cosmin, Sergiu Costache, Lesley-Anne Down, Adina Galupa, George Remes
Genre: Action, ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  4 (from 1 vote)
Review: John Alexander (Steven Seagal) is a hitman who hires out his services to the people who will pay him the most money, but the life of a violent man is beginning to wear on him and he is looking to getting out of it. However, there is one job offered by an old associate, Van Horn (Howard Dell), which he feels duty bound to take, especially as the target, known as the Afghani (Sergiu Costache), is supposed to pose a threat to the United States and the Free World. Alexander isn't sure if he's going to actually kill him, but does agree to investigate the man by heading over to his mansion in Ukraine and breaking in, yet on that fateful evening he will become mixed up with an even more dangerous foe...

Back in the nineteen-eighties in Britain, the popularity of homegrown wrestling began to wind down from its seventies heyday, but there was one star whose success endured past the point the sport was taken off Saturday afternoon television, and he was called Big Daddy. Well, he was actually called Shirley Crabtree, improbably, but he took the role of the hero in his contests, and had a big following because of that. He was also big all over, a towering, bulky individual, nobody's idea of an athlete and his signature move would be to barge his opponents with his huge belly, even landing on them if the opportunity arose, and invariably emerging the victor of each bout.

What has this got to do with late period Steven Seagal? The parallels were there should you care to look, as his movies by the twenty-first century had stopped packing out the multiplexes and were now a more specialised form of entertainment that his fans had to seek out. They also more or less adhered to the same formula over and over again: there would be no unexpected shocks in a Seagal flick, you could even guess who the double crosser was going to be within seconds of their appearance on the screen. And as for his martial arts skills, by this point he was relying on his firearms technique, so watching this to see him kicking ass was a futile pursuit when Seagal only committed himself to about a minute of that activity all told.

Perhaps a minute is a generous assessment, as the star put across the impression of just not caring anymore, the whole demeanour this John Alexander exuded was delivering the message "I simply cannot be arsed". He didn't appear to be too bothered who knew it either, whispering his lines in a barely audible murmur, keeping exactly the same expression on his face throughout, i.e. no expression, and only getting up out of his seat if he really had to. Now, this does not make for much of an action hero, so how pleasing would it have been if Seagal had checked out some old clips of Big Daddy and seen how an ageing beat 'em up merchant could carry himself and still demand respect?

It would be great to see Seagal really using that weight advantage; his chief opponent here was Vinnie Jones and what a tonic it would have been to watch Steve gutbarging him to the floor, but alas it was not going to happen, as if everyone involved was too embarrassed to highlight the fact he was looking seriously past it and had been for a long while. Was he regarding Liam Neeson's late career flourish with envious eyes? Because Seagal could have taken that kind of role easily, yet for some reason chose to play it safe and alternate mercenary with cop on the edge parts which required him to put in the minimum of effort, preaching to the converted as far as those who sought his movies out went. Indeed, if there was any justice he wouldn't have been in this at all and the charismatic Byron Mann, who essayed the sidekick role, would have taken the lead as he could genuinely handle the action with some energy, meaning he was wasted in films like this. What you had was more of the same as far as Absolution went, and that wasn't good enough. Music by Michael Richard Plowman.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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