|Running time:||91 minutes|
|Release date:||30 july 2021|
"The Last Mercenary is an incredibly exciting project that allows me to confront a new genre. I have always been a fan of Jean-Paul Belmondo and I hope to take up the torch of action comedy in my own way. David Charhon's script, brings all these codes in a very successful way in a beautiful story with emotion, a lot of action and a lot of humor. I'm also very happy to work alongside a new generation of talent like Alban Ivanov, Assa Sylla and Samir Decazza, but also to be reunited on screen with the cream of French actors like Patrick Timsit, Eric Judor, Valérie Kaprisky and Miou-Miou." - Jean-Claude Van Damme
Jean Claude Van Damme (JCVD) remains one of the most iconic actors in world action cinema. Despite the weight of the years and having imposed himself as a true phenomenon with films for some that have become cult like Bloodsport (1988), Kickboxer (1989), Hard Target (1990) Universal Soldier (1992), this actor continues to amaze us and win our sympathy. Not that these last films are exemplary successes, but they show above all a willingness to invest himself completely in his films and to show that despite his age Jean Claude Van Damme is still as comfortable in comedies but also in action films. It is enough to see The Expendables 2 (2012) to show that he is able to stand up to actors like Sylvester Stallone and look credible. Similarly, Kickboxer: Vengeance (2016) and Kickboxer: Retaliation (2017) even if he does not have the lead role shows that his acting has refined with age in the same way that he is able to leave the straitjacket of action movies to venture into a more mature cinema see author we will think in particular JCVD (2017) and Lukas (2018).
His latest film to date co-written and directed by David Charbon is certainly not his best film but has the merit of offering him a different role from previous ones. His character of a former special agent of the French secret service turned mercenary seems to allow him to take on a role in the line of those occupied by Jean Paul Belmondo in the 80s and it is not a coincidence to find actors who have marked the French cinema alongside him as Patrick Timsit, Valerie Kaprisky and Miou-Miou. The contrast of the cast is certainly one of its strengths and in the same way to be able to find in full form the French comedians Alban Ivanov and Eric Judor brings an undeniable additional contrast. For his fourth film, director David Charhon (Cyprien (2009), De l'autre côté du périph (2012), Les Naufragés (2016)) has not chosen the easy way by offering us a more or less successful mix of action film and comedy.
After an introductory scene worthy of the best introductions of American action films, we discover in action this former special agent of the French secret service who has become a mercenary (an obvious nod to the film The Professional (1981)) and who has been abandoned by his country on a battlefield. Forced to return to France to find his son and get him out of a delicate situation, Richard Brumère, alias "La Brume" (Jean Claude Van Damme) will not only have to face the ghosts of his past but also regain all his efficiency to become a real killing weapon capable of standing up to the forces of order.
Of course, The Last Mercenary is not perfect, but it has at least the merit of offering us an effective action movie that will remind many with nostalgia the Europacorp productions mixing successful action scenes, chases and international casting. Jean Claude Van Damme, despite his age, is still at ease in his action scenes and is also at ease in comedy scenes and in his different outfits allowing him to blend into the background. With his different costumes and different styles, the film allows him to get out of his role of righting wrongs clearly more focused on the use of his muscles than the use of his brain. We also suspect that Jean Claude Van Damme has brought his little touch to the dialogues of his character which brings to the film successful dialogues and aimed right.
It is also impossible not to see in The Last Mercenary a certain copy of the film La Totale d! (1981) by Claude Zidi whose American remake True Lies (1994) was directed by James Cameron with Arnold Schwarzenegger in the main role. This impression is reinforced by a scene taking place in a party and in which one would almost expect to see Jean Claude Van Damme eclipsing some dance steps. In the same way, we can appreciate the small nods to some of his previous films such as Kickboxer or a certain willingness to propose action scenes with objects different from those that we could see in such scenes. Of course, The Last Mercenary can't compete with these scenes with American films like the excellent Nobody, but it allows us to see that French cinema is still able to mix comedy, unusual and action with a real dexterity and thus to make us spend a pleasant moment.
The last mercenary
Directed by David Charhon
Produced by Olivier Albou, Olias Barco, David Charhon, Jakéma Charhon, Jean-Charles Lévy, Eponine Maillet, Nicolas Manuel, Vladislav Ryashin, Laurence Schonberg, Thierry Arbogast
Written by David Charhon and Izm
Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme, Alban Ivanov, Assa Sylla, Samir Degazza, Eric Judor, Patrick Timsit, Valérie Kaprisky, Miou-Miou
Cinematography : Thierry Arbogast
Edited by Yann Malcor
Production companies : Forecast Pictures, Other Angle Pictures, Curiosa Films, Netflix France
Distributed by Netflix
Release date : July 30, 2021 (France, USA)
Running time : 110 minutes
Viewed on July 26, 2021 (Netflix Press Access)