Mercenary For Justice

cast: Steven Seagal, Luke Goss, Roger Guenveur Smith, Jaqueline Lord, and Michael Kenneth Williams

director: Don E. FauntLeRoy

91 minutes (18) 2006
widescreen ratio 1.85:1
Momentum DVD Region 2 rental / retail
[released 17 July]

RATING: 1/10
reviewed by Debbie Moon

After being double-crossed and abandoned by the CIA while on a deniable mission in Africa, mercenary John Seeger (Steven Seagal) is blackmailed into helping free the son of a billionaire gunrunner from a Cape Town jail. With a friend’s family held hostage, his former girlfriend recruited by a corrupt CIA officer to entrap him, and the clock ticking, will he find time for personal vengeance?

This wonderfully clunky actioner is the kind of movie that believes that macho clichés are a substitute for personality, and on-screen titles announcing locations and character’s names and job descriptions can usefully replace exposition. It contains a lot of lovingly photographed mayhem, mostly borrowed from heist movies and The Dogs Of War, but we know nothing about the confusingly large cast of characters, and care less.

Seagal barely seems to appear in the first half-hour, and fatally sacrifices our sympathy in the process; it’s hard to regard him as a hero after we’ve seen him playing second fiddle to fellow mercenaries who cheerfully kill child hostages. When he does finally remember that he’s supposed to be the hero of the movie, a stolid and listless Seagal stomps efficiently through average action sequences, and makes a game but unconvincing attempt to romance Jacqueline Lord (who’s apparently channelling Catherine Zeta-Jones in Ocean’s Twelve mode, and is still the best thing here).

After veering in random directions for a while, the movie dwindles to a conventional free-the-hostages/ confront-the-villain ending; complete with terrible wisecracking puns that even Schwarzenegger would have turned down. I think you’ve got the general idea by now; this movie is truly awful. The director and producers may hail Seagal as a legend in the making-of documentary (along with the trailer, the only DVD extras), but there isn’t much evidence here to support that. Do yourself a favour, and rent The Dogs Of War instead…