The Mercenary is phoney-baloney action-packed junk. That’s harsh, but how else do you explain something that’s so violent and transparent?
The story has morals of non-violence that evolve into a message about “selective” violence, before taking its final form as a senseless flick that blasts all morals into a bloody pulp. Enjoyable empty-headed action fodder exists (Netflix’s Polar is an excellent example), but the film needs some consistency channeled into its logic (or lack thereof).
Let’s examine the violence in The Mercenary, because that’s what most viewers will be attracted by. It doesn’t work because some people can die from being shot once, and other people can be literally crucified and pull themselves together to go into combat. The latter happens to our lead Maxx (Dominiquie Vandenberg), as well as a vicious neck stabbing that renders him speechless early on, only for him to be healed by the halfway mark. This doesn’t make sense, and it could’ve been an easy fix if director Jesse V. Johnson (Triple Threat) had reigned in his visual desires.
As noted before, the overall message is baffling (credit to screenwriter David Filmore). After his critical neck wound, Maxx is taken in by a small village under the supervision of Father Elias (Carmen Argenziano) who orders Maxx to help at a local church in exchange for the hospitality. Here, Maxx gets back in touch with faith and becomes an inspiration for attendees. When Maxx has to hang up his new outlook to fight off his old crew from the village, all bets are off. This means that open brawls take place in areas where anyone could be gunned down. Maxx isn’t trying to protect any townspeople. Dominiquie Vandenberg acts like a buffering robot, and any development learned by Maxx has been erased by a magnet. The Mercenary’s complete dismissal of emotion could’ve been the key to its consistency, but Johnson and Filmore have legitimate passion for their message (proven further by some final title cards at the end of the film). Their concern is their own saboteur.
Even by the low standards set by the schlockiest of bargain bin throwaways, The Mercenary is shockingly sloppy.
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Addison Wylie: @AddisonWylie