2 out of 10
Director: Paris Leonti
Release Date: 27th January 2012
Cast: Robert Fucilla, Kirsty Mitchell, Rob-James Collier, Vas Blackwood, Michael Nardone, Danny Sapani, Anthony Byrne, Ian Burfield, Robert Boulter with Geoff Bell and Billy Zane,
Writer: Paris Leonti
In some cases when a film says crap on the tin you can take the lid off and find something good inside. I’ve been finding that approaching each low budget British Indie as if it could be a hidden gem has been the best way to go, recently. In this case a turd is a turd though. I’m glad to warn off the majority here, only my worst enemies need apply, Mercenaries is pretty crap-lustre.
After a coup in the Balkans were an exiled dictator,Olodan Gragovic (ANTHONY BYRNE) seizes power, a group of four mercenaries – lead by Andy Marlow (ROBERT FUCILLA – SHANK) are sent in to neutralise the threat and rescue any surviving staff at the US embassy. Briefed by a sleepwalking Billy Zane (SNIPER) as General Torida, Marlow and three buddies, fake American, Callum (ROB-JAMES COLLIER – DOWNTON ABBEY), loose cannon, Zac (VAS BLACKWOOD – THE LENNY HENRY SHOW) and a disposable with about two lines, get driven up the road to an area where the UN or US army can’t intervene or even be seen without kicking off a war. The two hostages are played by feisty can-do girl, Beatrice (KIRSTY MITCHELL – HOLBY CITY) and a nameless ambassador in red knitwear (DANIEL SAPANI – HARD BOILED SWEETS) and their lack of experience in combat exacerbates the rescue mission. On kidnapping Gragovic, the gang find themselves pursued by his one-eyed second in command, Radovic (MICHAEL NARDONE – INTRUDERS) and a mysteriously inert henchmen in aviators played by Geoff Bell (SOLOMON KANE)? Hmmm, what’s his secret? He keeps on checking his mobile phone when no-one’s looking. That’s funny, this film made me do the same thing.
If only the characters were made of quality cardboard but this is cheap pulp. Reconstituted paper-mache that’s been left in the rain to go a bit soggy. Now what’s wrong with this cut price rip off of Billy Zane‘s cut price Sniper franchise? Well Billy Zane is OK, just sleepy and barely in it. He’s been airlifted in for approximately four short scenes. So yes, it does carry the warning “contains mild Billy Zane“. No this film belongs to the charisma vacuum Robert Fucilla in his first (?) lead role. If you cast your mind back, Fucilla is the stock market millionnaire that bought himself an acting career by producing and editing his own performance into The Big I Am back in 2010? Glory knows that he’d still be having unsuccessful auditions if he hadn’t been good at his city job. He’s fine in smaller roles, like Pimp or Shank but he demonstrates here that he is a terrible leading man. The role is underwritten to the point of non-existence and he just looks lost. His efforts at the physical stretch to little beyond rolling around in the mud and firing an armalite. He’s aptly backed up by a marginally interesting Vas Blackwood, but disappointingly his Zac buys the farm a third of the way in leaving a huge vacuum. Rob-James Collier‘s character vanishes for so long I thought I’d slept through his demise. Turns out he was just lost in the woods… Oh yeah, the setting.
Mercenaries expects us to believe that a private country estate in East Sussex is deepest, inaccessible, deadly Balkans. Much of the action takes place around a few rhodeddendron bushes and one or two portakabins. Much of it looking too much like England. The best thing about the movie were the accents (excepting Rob-James Collier‘s extremely wack attempt at a Texan one). Geoff Bell delivers 80% of his lines in a foreign language and I was surprised to read that all the principal cast were English (Billy Zane excepted). It’s a small thing, but at least it’s there. Yes, I know we’re in trouble if the quality of accents is the only thing to recommend, it’s like the Jamie Foreman vehicle The Grind where I highlighted what a good OST it had. What should have been a straight forward action thriller turns out to be leaden and very boring. Normally budgetary constraints shouldn’t be a factor, plenty of low budget movies have been made in a few acres of woodland, but Mercenaries is let down by it’s cheapness. Bad post-production effects, like muzzle flashes, explosions and even smoke fail to convince. The guns sound like and look they’ve been bought in Pound Land, I think they are plastic. The actors certainly wave them around like they weigh the same as a packet of crisps. Gore has been added in post as well, with a negative blotted with a red felt-tip here and there. Also it’s mis-cast, Fucilla and co are just too short to be world class military freelancers. They come across like the seven dwarfs with their massive rucksacks that can barely fit through the doorways in Gragovic’s HQ (lol). Man, this film sucked hard. There were heaps of continuity errors and mistakes too that remain in the film. Geoff Bell even trips over on a branch at one point and carries on regardless, it’s that type of cheapo!
Kirsty Mitchell was OK too and I actually thought she was an American compared to Collier‘s terrible efforts. It features some fine actors, Blackwood, Bell and Sapani but in casting the permanently confused hamster-Andy Garcia love-child Fucilla in the lead was a mistake. A more experienced, bigger (in size) actor could have taken the focus off the bad script, messy plot dynamics and the hardcore boredom. There are worse films but Mercenaries is unforgivable in that there’s a great little action film idea in here somewhere. Shame it was shot in some obscure Lord’s back garden, starring the UK Industries biggest (and shortest) gift to ego!
2 out 10 – It’s rare to see a crap film were Billy Zane isn’t to blame for the result. Robert Fucilla concretes what I suspected when I saw The Big I Am – money can’t buy natural talent, mate. If he’s going to insist on being a leading man he’s got to spend some of his millions on acting lessons or just stick to smaller supporting roles were he’d have fewer lines to remember and can focus on getting into the character. Mercenaries is amateurish in most respects and f*cks up the most basic of action plots and turns it into death by rhododendron.
WHAT HAVE I SEEN THAT ACTOR IN BEFORE?
- Robert Fucilla: The Contract (2015), The Magnificent Eleven, Shank, Pimp, The Big I Am
- Kirsty Mitchell: Monarch Of The Glen (TV), Holby City (TV)
- Rob-James Collier: A Christmas Story, Wayland’s Song, Spike Island, Downton Abbey (TV), Coronation Street (TV)
- Vas Blackwood: We Still Steal The Old Way, Cryptic, The Guvnors, Meet The Firm – White Collar Hooligan 3, Essex Boys Retribution, It’s a Lot, White Collar Hooligan 2, Offender, Creep, Rollin With The Nines, Mean Machine, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, The Lenny Henry Show (TV)
- Danny Sapani: Trance, Hard Boiled Sweets, The Bill (TV), Ultimate Force (TV)
- Michael Nardone: Child 44, Wayland’s Song, Intruders
- Ian Burfield: The Selfish Giant, The International, The Krays
- Robert Boulter: Donkey Punch
- Geoff Bell: Suffragette, North v South, Kingsman – The Secret Service, Comedown, Storage 24, Comes a Bright Day, The Reeds, War Horse, Brighton Rock (2011), Route Irish, Solomon Kane, Just For The Record, Wild Target (2010), Big Fat Gypsy Gangster, Botched, Love Me Still, Tormented, Green Street, The Business, Mean Machine
- Billy Zane: Zoolander 2, Flutter, Elecktrick Children, The Scorpion King 3, The Roommate, Silver City, Zoolander, The Believer, Titanic, This World The Fireworks The Next, Head Above Water, The Phantom, Demon Knight, Only You, Tombstone, Poetic Justice, Posse, Lake Consequence, Sniper, Sniper 4, Orlando, Twin Peaks (TV), Memphis Belle, Megaville, Back The The Future 2, Dead Calm, Critters