Plot: John Seeger (Steven Seagal) is an elite mercenary who seen and done it all, but he is devastated after his latest assignment. He and his squad were tasked to assist in a coup, but when the CIA forces turned their guns on innocents, including one of Seeger’s best friends, he is beyond disillusioned. The mission was a total loss on all fronts, but Seeger makes a promise to his late friend’s family, that he will help out and make sure they are taken care of. But the CIA has other plans, kidnapping the family and forcing Seeger into another dangerous mission, under threat of harm to his friend’s loved ones. CIA dirty deeds man John Dresham (Luke Goss) wants Seeger to lead a prison break to free an arms dealer, but of course, Seeger has plans of his own and that includes settling the score with the agents who burned him.
Entertainment Value: This movie doesn’t have much action as far as action movies are concerned, but Mercenary for Justice has some solid b movie appeal and makes some odd, humorous choices. Even as a fan of Steven Seagal, I have to concede that his direct to video efforts tend to skew toward the bottom of the scale, but some are able to turn the corner into b movie magic. This movie is one that does just that, though it also turns back toward the dull, slow end of the scale as well, leaving us with an uneven, but often ridiculous experience. I love the awkward close ups, which happen all the time and for little or no reason, just wildly up close and personal shots, which I found humorous, for one reason or another. I also have to give some credit to the hilarious accents found in Mercenary for Justice, which sometimes combine with the close ups and overly serious performances for a perfect storm of unintentional humor. As much as I loved those elements, the pace is slow and the action is sparse, though it is fun in the rare scenes where the action takes the spotlight. If you’re just after an explosive action movie, Mercenary for Justice is likely to disappoint, but as a strange, humorous Seagal b movie, it delivers solid fun.
I can’t make a case for this being one of Steven Seagal’s better performances, but he does have great moments in this one. I appreciate that even in these low effort, direct to video projects, Seagal often springs to life for a few scenes and that happens here, in moments that add a lot to the movie. He is able to snap off one liners to humorous ends and I wish it happened more in these kind of movies, as even with lowered volumes of action, Seagal’s banter can ramp up entertainment value. The action is what it is, not even close to his peak work in the 90s, but even in mediocre content like this, I have fun just seeing Seagal, even if it he is going through the motions. Another performer who deserves a mention is Roger Guenveur Smith, who has a lot of the awkward close ups I mentioned before, as well as easily one of the most hilarious accents I’ve ever heard. He is so dead serious, with this outlandish accent and the camera is shoved right in his face, it is just outrageously humorous. I can’t even knock his work here, as he provides so much of the entertainment. The cast also includes Luke Goss, Jacqueline Lord, Adrian Galley, and Michael Kenneth Williams.