Jean-Claude Van Damme is a legend. From his splits to his high kicks and dance moves, Van Damme helped build 1980s action films in the best way possible. And every action icon deserves a film that is a love letter to, well, themselves. Netflix’s The Last Mercenary is just that. Directed by David Charhon, written by Charon and Ismaël Sy Savané, The Last Mercenary stars Van Damme, Alban Ivanov, Assa Sylla, Samir Decazza, Patrick Timsit, Eric Judor, and Miou-Miou.
In The Last Mercenary, a mysterious, former secret service agent, Richard (Van Damme), must urgently return to France when his estranged son is falsely accused of arms and drug trafficking by the government following a blunder by an overzealous bureaucrat and a mafia operation. But, this isn’t just about Richard trying to stay out of the way of the government or the mafia. It’s also about him and his son, Archie, bonding over some truly ludicrous action sequences, including a chase in a tiny red car. Plus, you get a truly charismatic and hilarious cast of secondary characters, none greater than Dalila.
To be honest, I don’t really know how to talk about The Last Mercenary. It is equal parts action and comedy that move at a breakneck pace. We see the narrative through three perspectives, all moving towards each other in different ways. We watch Richard as he evades those tracking him and tries to reconnect with the son he abandoned. We follow the government agency as they question subjects and make moves to keep a hilariously named cover-up operation hidden. And we watch as a Scarface-obsessed son of a mafia boss blunders his way through a drug drop.
In fact, the absurdity and humor of The Last Mercenary are what give the film its charm. Whether it’s a phone in a Big Mac carton, a man riding an electric scooter in his underwear, or the many puns throughout, it all just works. There is nothing serious about this film. Instead, it’s an action film that thrives on making you laugh while also giving you every callback to Van Damme classics that you could imagine.
Of course, Van Damme is excellent in the film (even when he dubs his character for the English dub of the film). He pulls off stuntwork just as he did in the 1980s. Unfortunately, the only issue is that there are more jump cuts per action sequence than the action icon used to use, but given his age, 60-years old, it makes sense that there would be more editing and use of a stunt team than he had in his prime. That said, Van Damme is both an intimidating mercenary and a wholesome dad, with all the humor that comes with that title as well. And to be honest, the film’s fights are helped by their humor.
The Last Mercenary is a love letter to Jean-Claude Van Damme and his legacy in the funniest of ways. The film is fun, action-packed, fast-paced, and it makes for a fun Friday night film. Sure there are some story inconsistencies and some off-color jokes that don’t land that well, but overall, The Last Mercenary is just pure fun. It’s Van Damme doing everything we love him for and embracing the zanier parts of action-comedy. With several costume changes, you can pick from pool boy Van Damme, pornstache Van Damme, and a whole lot more. And each and every version of the Muscles from Brussels is a delight.
The Last Mercenary is streaming now exclusively on Netflix.
The Last Mercenary
- Rating - 7.5/107.5/10
In the funniest of ways, The Last Mercenary is a love letter to Jean-Claude Van Damme and his legacy. The film is fun, action-packed, fast-paced, and makes for a fun Friday night film. Sure there are some story inconsistencies and some off-color jokes that don’t land that well, but overall, The Last Mercenary is just pure fun.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.