THE LAST MERCENARY (LE DERNIER MERCENAIRE) (NETFLIX) (2021)
SYNOPSIS: A mysterious secret agent who has been denounced by his government must return to France when his son becomes framed by an international terrorist organization.
The Muscles of Brussels otherwise known as Jean-Claude Van Damme or JCVD in short or hilariously nicknamed “The Mist” in this French action comedy is finally back in a decent movie which we can actually see clearly his left, right, front profile rather than a stand-in actor.
Richard Brumere (Jean-Claude Van Damme) is a mysterious secret agent and lady killer who has a son with the wife of a certain Commander Jouard (Patrick Timsit) years ago. With his estranged biological son, Archibald (Samir Decazza) being falsely accused of arms trafficking, Richard must returned from the field to rescue him. Along for the ride is Archibald’s friend, Dalila (Assa Sylla), her brother Momo (Djimo) and foreign affairs staff, Alex (Alban Ivanov). At the same time, they must unravel the true identity of the mole in the ministry and capture the real arms-dealer, Simyon (Nassim Lyes).
Clearly, The Last Mercenary is not one movie to be taken seriously. Right from the start, we see Van Damme doing his famous spilt, execute a few kicks and rescuing a hostage. The silly prologue summarizes his entire career and reminding audiences Van Damme is still an action hero in a few minutes but writer and director David Charhon has more to offer, meaning it’s time to unleash Van Damme’s comedic chops to good use.
One biggest difference between this and JCVD in which he plays a semi-improvised version of himself is in this particular comedy, his Richard Brumere contains less emotional baggage, it’s pure slapstick and silly fun all the way. The character of Brumere allows him to don several disguises, a cleaner, a swimming coach and even dressing up as a woman. The laughs are frequently absurd consider Van Damme just needs to put on a poker face to make the material funnier.
Despite the limited budget, Charhon pulls off several high-octane action scenes. One memorable one featuring Brumere and Archibald in a car chase with two armed assassins hot on their heels and a funny (not high-octane) one in which Alex is riding near naked on an electric scooter. Of course, Van Damme gets plenty of chances to showcase his nimble kicks and punches with one particularly interesting scene in which he gets to spar with two musclewomen clad in gold swimsuits.
This is not exactly the politically correct comedy we are expecting. Certain jokes and gags might not go well for some though there are more than enough humour and action to entertain the masses. The French certainly knows their caviar and how to do balance action with comedy. Good edits and no shaky cams as well. Throw in a veteran liked Jean-Claude Van Damme and we are sure you are going to enjoy your time with The Last Mercenary or “The Mist”.
Review by Linus Tee