CIA dirtbag Hayes gets that middle of the night phone call the rest of us can only dream about. On the other end is a perturbed Steven Seagal. Steve has just gotten done murdering a dude in a parking garage that Hayes sent to kill him.
“Hayes. Listen to me you motherfucker. I know all your fucking immoral dirty rotten criminal shit and I don’t care. I got my own fish to fry.” And that’s just the opening pleasantries! By the time Steve is finished he has advised Hayes that if he keeps messing with Steve that not only will Steve kill him, but also his mother and dog! Damn Hayes, you never interrupt one of Steve’s fish fries! Dummy!
Hayes didn’t get to be the immoral dirty rotten criminal shit he is by being scared off by one of Steve’s late night hangry phone calls though! Once Steve is finished with his hateful homily, Hayes simply ends the call, turns the light off and goes back to sleep! After all, Seagal was a contact on his phone, so he’s probably been through this a hundred times before! Besides, he’s just going to call in a missile strike once Steve is back home with wife at the end of the movie. These guys are always trying to one up each other!
While this deranged Spy vs. Spy action is the most enjoyable part of General Commander, it really is just a couple of throwaway bits that has nothing whatsoever to do with the movie. Instead Steve spends most of his time battling organ harvesters in southeast Asia with his team of young, pretty operatives.
Following the template of his previous film, Attrition, Steve leads a group of mercenaries in tackling another hot button issue where the mission goes wrong, causing him to spend the movie tracking the bad guy down for some payback. Things are more disastrous this time as it is actually one Steve’s crew who gets killed when things go sideways. Worse, since his team is actually working for the CIA, they now have to contend with their CIA boss disbanding the group and sending them back home for retraining and reassignment!
Of course Steve is having none of that and during the debriefing by his CIA boss that clumsily serves as a framing device for the rest of the story, he delivers one of his patented impassioned monologues that feels like he is just making it up as he goes along. He yammers on about how he loves his country, but there are two governments inside the government and how he was lied to about what they’ve done to us and to his country. Also, don’t ask him about what he’s done or how he did it. And don’t talk about “any of this bullshit about it’s my home” referring to the CIA.
Steve’s cussing out a couple of CIA goons are what passes for the highlights in this otherwise routinely paint-by-numbers efforts that sees him assume a sort of emeritus status where he lets the younger and physically fit team members do all the hard work, only lumbering into action in the final scenes to battle the bad guy with the large pie knife he must have pilfered from the catering truck earlier that day.
While the story of avenging a fallen comrade is fairly pedestrian for these sorts of cheap foreign shot action films, since Steve is involved, there are flourishes added that feel like they came directly from him and not from a screenwriter who was trying to either keep things grounded in reality or entertain the audience.
For instance, after being disbanded by the CIA, Steve simply flies off to meet a wealthy woman he knows and asks her for five million dollars to set up private company for his team to go after the organ harvester. She mindlessly agrees and thus the General Commander security team is born, complete with cheesy late 1990s-inspired spinning logo!
And after their friend is killed, the team members are beset by grief and self doubt in a series of silly scenes highlighted by one member sitting in church and crying about sinning for killing a dude while her priest comforts her by saying God has a plan for all of us. As soon as she walks out of her church, she sees a guy assaulting a woman and promptly beats him up! God’s plan is for you to keep kicking ass, honey!
While Seagal’s strange un-charisma is usually the only draw in these films (you’re just biding your time waiting for his elephantine presence, like some type of black coat-wearing, goateed Godzilla, but slower and heavier and not as convincing as the guy wearing the Godzilla suit), General Commander defies the odds and features someone almost as hilariously inept in the form of the team’s CIA handler.
Achieving a unique combination of being forced to deliver atrocious dialogue and doing so in a completely halting and unnatural fashion, Megan Brown as Jessica Thompson easily holds her own with Steve, threatening at times to upstage him. If she’s given a bigger part in a future Seagal project, it has the possibility of being a tremendous comedy. As it is, kudos to the rest of Steve’s team that they are able to endure her robotically wooden attempts at interrogating them without laughing in her face. Not having had their training at Langley though, the audience won’t be able to be so polite.
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