By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
Jamie Shannon (Christopher Walken) is a seasoned soldier who has used his skills honed in Vietnam to become a reputable mercenary. Shortly after returning home from a violent war in Central America, he is approached by members of a British company to investigate General Kimba, the leader of the small African nation of Zangaro. The businessmen want to know if Kimba’s regime is stable. The company is eager to exploit some unnamed natural resources within the country, and want to know if they can work with Kimba.
You can probably guess how well that goes…
Director John Irvin’s film feels like a latter-day New Hollywood production, as it focuses less on cheap thrills. The result is a cognizant statement on the danger of unregulated corporate meddling in third-world politics. The film’s events may be fictional, but they emulate the actions taken by major corporate interests within the African continent. In a sense, Jamie Shannon & his team are just as much puppets of these interests as the African warlords who take their bribes. Over the course of the film, Shannon seems to come to this realization, but in a rare act of elegance for a Hollywood production, there are no heavy handed speeches or sermons. This message is conveyed instead through his character’s actions and mannerisms. While other films of the time period portrayed soldiers as musclebound hulks, Walken uses his lanky frame and his character’s strategic cunning to win the day. Well, that and his crazy, crazy eyes…
I just shit myself…
The movie can feel a bit too episodic in its execution. It wasn’t neccesary to spend so much of the first act showing Shannon investigating Zangaro. They could have easily cut this down in the interest of brevity. With that said, as soon as Shannon begins to assemble his team in the second act, and finally begin the mission, the pace picks up, and the film moves along at a very nice clip.
As much time as is spent on building Shannon’s character, the rest of his team feel underutilized. Overall, they never really rise above basic caricatures. The only notable exception being Tom Berenger as Shannon’s 2nd in Command, Drew. While they still don’t spend much time on him, Berenger’s performance works wonders on the minimal information the audience has to work with. Shannon has just become the godfather to his child, so Drew is married, with children…
Completely random trivia: watch for a brief scene with Ed O’Neill, in his big screen debut
(Jesus, that joke didn’t seem forced at all- said everyone reading this)
A slightly overlong, but deeply affecting and subtle political statement, with bonus Walken ass-kicking
Take a Drink: for every plot twist
Take a Drink: whenever Walken shouts and/or threatens someone
Do a Shot: for every mention of the nonexistent, yet sort of real-sounding nation of Zangaro