The Last Mercenary, The Belgian motion star Jean-Claude Van Damme concurrently is and isn’t the main man you suppose he’s within the French action-comedy “The Final Mercenary.” Van Damme performs Richard “The Mist” Brumere, a mythic soldier of fortune who should shield and exonerate his estranged organic son Archibald (Samir Decazza), who has, via a sequence of dopey problems, change into confused for Simyon (Nassim Lyes), a “Scarface”-obsessed arms seller.
As Richard, Van Damme winks at his self-fashioned picture as a cartoonish pressure of nature, like when he nods approvingly at a poster of the tacky, however iconic Van Damme car “Bloodsport.” There are just a few jokes about Richard’s legendary experience as each a person of motion and a lady-killer (“He boned my spouse”).
There are additionally just a few uncommon tender moments the place Van Damme lets his emotional guard down lengthy sufficient to joke about how uncomfortable he’s taking part in in opposition to sort. Van Damme by no means actually tries to flee his former self, however, it’s a type of endearing to see him, as embarrassed as papa Richard, attempt to be a greater particular person.
In “The Final Mercenary,” Richard solely returns to France after he learns that the French Ministry of Overseas Affairs has mistaken Archibald—who, because of his dad’s skillful negotiation, was dwelling beneath an assumed title, and with diplomatic immunity—for Simyon, a callow arms seller from the fictional nation of Taarghistan. Richard is the one one who can shield Archibald from lengthy sufficient to not solely catch Simyon, however, to additionally draw out the French officers who’ve protected Simyon from arrest. A pokey comedy of mistaken identification ensues.
Sadly, there’s solely a lot humorous in farcical scenes the place Richard tries to work and bond with the film’s supporting solid members, significantly goofy comedian foil Alexandre (Alban Ivanov) and under-developed sidekicks Dalila (Assa Sylla) and her brother Momo (Djimo). Alexandre is a doughy white man, so there’s an unlucky gag the place he, carrying solely an outsized helmet and a pair of tighty-whities, rides a scooter around Paris. And Dalila and Momo are each inside metropolis youths, so Dalila holds her personal throughout a bodily altercation earlier than Van Damme rescues her, and Momo sasses again at a room full of white socialites after they confuse him for a waiter. Some Borscht belt comedians would blush at these creaky materials, have been they nonetheless alive to take action.
However, Van Damme’s battle to change into comfy in his personal oversized persona is typically a topic of enjoyment and humor. He’s been wrestling with this matter for years now, maybe most overtly since “JCVD,” a lopsided, however typically unexpectedly affecting 2008 meta-action-comedy. Van Damme has loved just a few moments of transcendent navel-gazing since then, like when he re-united with the penguin mascot from “Sudden Death” within the current (and principally entertaining) Amazon sequence “Jean-Claude Van Johnson.” “The Final Mercenary” continues that development in a handful of stand-out scenes, which might be multiple can count on the condition that Van Damme’s late interval profession is extra like additional innings than a model new ball recreation.
Van Damme appears high-quality sufficient throughout some over-edited motion scenes, like when Richard dispatches a pair of gold swimsuit-clad musclewoman heavies. However, Van Damme is clearly at his greatest when he’s letting the crags in his well-loved stone face converse for him, even throughout a throwaway gag the place Richard camouflages himself by placing on a wig and draping one arm around Lyes, simply to keep away from being seen by Simyon’s villainous colleagues. The oral intercourse joke that caps off this gag is much less humorous, however by this level, Van Damme followers are in all probability conscious that nothing good lasts endlessly.
So it’s good to see that the Muscle tissues from Brussels shouldn’t be solely self-aware but in addition sharp sufficient each time he has to take a child step or two past his personal shadow. Richard’s sheepish makes attempts at reconnecting with Archibald are significantly endearing, as in an automotive chase the place Archibald drives whereas his dad steers for him since Archibald doesn’t know methods to drive stick. This set piece is enjoyable, and never simply because it’s visually coherent, and in addition, scored with Blondie’s “One Manner Or One other.”
Van Damme’s insecure efficiency can be typically genuinely charming, like when he tries to announce Richard’s actual identification to Archibald, since he’d beforehand deserted his son and nation following some generic spy-related shenanigans. So: Richard asks Archibald what he is aware of about his organic father, however, he doesn’t get the response he desires (Quelle shock). Thus Richard, the globetrotting and “elusive” killer, should discuss himself up. He fumbles for the suitable phrases, and tentatively boasts that Archibald’s dad has a “nice repute.” The jittery pace with which Van Damme tries to muscle previous such an unimaginable self-congratulatory assertion is about nearly as good as “The Final Mercenary” will get.