Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe (2011 TV Movie)
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Set in 2005, the movie follows Sam's last mission as a Navy Seal before he wound up retired in Miami. A moment of indiscretion gets Sam sent into the South American jungles to deal with a terrorist group causing havoc. But, things aren't what they seem.
So far, the biggest complaints about this movie are that some of the uniforms are inaccurate, which means they must be doing everything else right. As made for TV movies go, this was very good. Even thought it felt more like one of Bruce's B-movie romps than an actual extension of Burn Notice, that only helps bring home the fun of the movie. Bruce gets many a great line, and a few nods to both his past and his fans.
The other characters ranged from well-acted to a kind of meh performance, and the overall direction by Jeffrey Donovan was well done. Fans of both Bruce and Burn Notice will enjoy this picture and come away feeling satisfied. Was this necessary? Maybe not. Was it worth it? Hell yes.
Jeffrey Donovan does a admirable showing as a director. He used some good moves behind the lens without getting crazy. Many times directors will so desperately want to "show their style" they get funky beyond reason, not the case here. He kept the action steady and allowed us to enjoy it. Thank you.
The writing was better than average as well. I can't review the script ( I didn't read that, and who knows how close the shoot came to it) but I can certainly see Mat Nix's hand on it. I would be surprised if they deviated much from his very excellent work as a writer.
The only complaint I could make would be the realism factor was down. I know BN tends to lean toward the A-Team side of realism and The Fall stuck with that style.
Since this movie was announced at Comicon last year I have been eagerly awaiting it. I was not disappointed, and if you like Burn Notice, neither will you.
The result is somewhat of a B-movie thriller except with an oddly uneven tone running across it. Sometimes it is amusing but it is never hilarious; sometimes it has action but it is never exciting; it just tends to have a little bit of everything to make it passable for those willing to go along with it. If you sat to watch it without any vested interested in the character of Sam then probably you'll not get much from it but then this is because it doesn't offer a huge amount for you. The main selling point here is Campbell and he does make it more entertaining than it deserves to be because his performance and his character are quite fun. The in-jokes for his fans are a nice touch if a little clunky, while he throws himself into it with energy and good comic timing. The supporting cast are never more than average though and it does hurt the overall film.
The effects are solid enough and the A-Team-esque action is decent and bloodless enough to distract. The direction is surprisingly "straight" though; the TV show has lots of music and quick cuts and sliding transitions but here the presentation is a lot more drab by comparison – a bit of "oomph" in this regard would have helped the film feel slicker and more fun as works for the show. Overall The Fall of Sam Axe is a distracting bit of filler to those fans of Burn Notice, even though it never gets to the same level of entertainment or fun as the actual show does. Bruce Campbell fans will get a kick out of it and it is certainly an "easy" watch but nothing more than that.
At the very beginning we see foreshadowing, in the form of his seemingly obsessive compulsive attention to the precision of his belt buckle's orientation, soon contrasted by a scene making one have no choice but to smell the possibility of the video game rights being sold to the makers of "Donkey Kong". Sam Axe, brilliantly portrayed by the affable Bruce Campbell, of "The Adventures of Briscoe County Jr." fame, is a living, breathing, oxymoron sans the "oxy", capable of leaving his calling card at the scene of the alleged crime while simultaneously reminding us how the likes of James Bond, Jason Bourne, and Jack Bauer often take themselves too seriously (perhaps those guys should be connoisseurs of Scotch, like Sam). I can't vouch for the authenticity of his uniform, or verify whether or not naval personnel are required to salute indoors, but I enjoy a good laugh when I see one.
The cameo with Michael Weston (played by Jeffrey Donovan) is priceless. Jerry Seinfeld was not a better mentor to George Costanza, nor was Bud Abbott to Lou Costello. Accordingly, the tone of the movie is much more comedic than that of its progenitor. Fans of "Burn Notice" will especially appreciate the term of endearment Sam uses when referring to an un-named ex girlfriend of Michael's. The interplay of the source of the soundtrack with specific situations is reminiscent of a Mel Brook's movie.
On the more sophisticated end of the comedy spectrum are the way subtitles don't always correspond to the spoken words, whether or not subtitles were even necessary in a given scene, and how Sam clumsily, yet fluently, spoke Spanish so inconsistently. I am reminded of numerous scenes in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds". Two examples are how Sam says "flaming sword" instead of "burning sword" for his interpretation of "ardiente espada", and when the subtitles display "thank you" when he says "gracious bandidos".
Sam Axe should also receive the "Second Best Use of a Chainsaw in an Under-funded Film" Award. The name of the first best user of a chainsaw in one of those situations escapes me, making me feel like a tree. Chainsaws don't help trees, people help trees. To cap it all off, the song played at the end is about Snow White, in celebration of a Cinderella victory. Nice.
It was predictable and a bit preachy, and the mention of the SOA was bordering on heavy-handed, but Bruce charms and smirks his way through it and makes an otherwise forgettable bit of tripe an actual pleasure to watch. It is significant, however, that no one but him could have.
Of course, one doesn't watch Bruce Campbell for the outstanding special effects (Alien Apocalypse, anyone?), the great supporting cast (The Man with the Screaming Brain?), or the realistic, down-to-earth plots (any Evil Dead you care to name), one watches for Bruce. By that standard, this movie does fine.
But if, like me, you love both Bruce AND Burn Notice, you'll lap this up! It comes across a little like a TV movie version of Romancing the Stone, with a sharper political edge. Writer/creator Matt Nix clearly has a somewhat jaundiced view of US foreign policy in Central America.
Bruce, as always, lifts the whole thing with his charisma - he's like a more self-aware, mocking version of James Garner and Matt Nix cleverly plants lots of in-jokes for both Burn Notice fans and Evil Dead-ites alike. Jeffrey Donovan's cameo felt a little forced, but other than that it's all good.
If you're immune to both Bruce and Burn Notice you'll spend your time finding fault with the accuracy of the thing. Otherwise you'll just sit back and be entertained by a fun action/comedy for 90 minutes.
Unfortunately, not all the show's characters fared the same. Don't get me wrong, none were poor actors; just that, some were weaker than others. And, most were appropriate for the genre and situation; but, just as in the series, some were written unbelievably stupid, or uni-dimensional or repetitive. Matt does seem to have a bit of a penchant for writing controlling shrews as lead female characters.
The director, Jeffery Donovan (Michael in the series), and writer are apparently much more acquainted with crooks, thugs and terrorists than they are with anything military. Guns, bombs and thugs are portrayed with amazing accuracy but anything military (especially Navy) seems to end at the mere term: "Navy SEAL." Supposedly Mr. Nix relies heavily on spy consultants but no one associated with the show appears to have even served in the military. No attempt seems to have been made to even approximate the correct insignias, uniforms, badges or military law (J.A.G) processes.
None-the-less, the series isn't about the military, TV budgets aren't the same as movies, Jeffery is a beginning director, and Matt... well he's Matt, one of a kind. The character-driven story was so compelling that, if you didn't look too deeply, or become annoyed with the characterizations, it was two hours well spent. Followers of the series will not be disappointed and will be well served with the new explanations, the new questions to answer, the expansion on a well-liked character, AND a great filler to a terribly long season hiatus.
The writing has some funny and some drama, but at times was a bit obvious and clunky. The only thing that really nagged me was the shrewish attitude of the lead female. Don't know if she was directed to play it that way or if it was the writing, but it was annoying.
Some of the other posters commented on the CGI. I didn't really care about that. You still get the gist of the action regardless.
Overall, it's worth a look to get the back story on a popular character. And get more Bruce Campbell in your life.
The movie itself was nothing to write home about but was nice to see Sam being Sam.
With Burn Notice ending after this season I am actually glad I didn't know about this till now as it was the beginning to the end of a TV show I greatly enjoyed.
For such a hodgepodge character set I was always amazed that they made it work. Campbell's character was a big part of its success and quite possibly its glue.
If you are a fan of the show it is worth watching.
The story wasn't bad, but it wasn't that good either. It would have been a passable two-part episode, but it left a lot of room for improvement.
Sanchez' charity aid worker is too similar to her infamous Niki, though the snark fits the tone of the franchise. She does end up less frustrating than that. Maybe it's that I've seen both her and Paolo in roles where I don't hate them. Xerxes! Even when they give him nothing to do, he's awesome. And she's solid in A Perfect Getaway, an enjoyable if flawed film. A role not everyone could have handled. A doctor, an angry teen girl, and a few individuals who shouldn't be trusted - good guys and bad alike are compelling. We get nice, big fireball explosions, gunplay, stunt work and more. Guerrilla warfare, strategy in the face of uneven odds, this fits right in. You can go into this blind, though there are great nods for the fans.
There is some bloody violence and disturbing content in this. The DVD comes with several extras. Its full hour and a half commentary track is informational and funny, featuring the star, the director and the show creator. There's 26 minutes of a great Comic Con panel. The Fall of Jeffrey Donovan is an 11 and a half minute joke documentary, as the talent supposedly cracks under the pressure – it's hilarious and easily the single best thing to come out of the production of the picture. The 1 and a half minute deleted scene is fine. I recommend this to anyone who enjoys spy action thrillers, and/or the work of the deeply enjoyable, the one, the only, the Bruce. 7/10
The appearance of Michael Weston just brings a smile to your face and the fact that the inside jokes or small jabs they take at each other are from Burn Notice.
Yes, some parts are super cheesy but they still make you feel good because you just cannot dislike Bruce Campbell and his charming self and smile.
I think this was probably one of the better TV movies ever made. The story was simple enough and most of all it related to BN and that almost gave me goose bumps. God I miss that show and all those characters.
Look, Campbell was pushing 60 when he did this and his performance is so smooth that he qualifies for the title KING OF COOL with the likes of Steve McQueen and John Travolta.
The whole thing has a tongue in cheek feel, but that is hardly a bad thing since most of the headlines these days have a foot in your *&&%% feel.
The dialogue is sharp, the scenery is interesting, the women (all two of them) are pretty, and there is a beginning a middle and even an end to the story.
What more could anyone ask for?
Must for series followers (as Sam's past was only briefly referred there), for the others - nice 1,5 hour in front of screen.
In Columbia, while looking for terrorists, things take a twist and then another, and another. Kiele Sanchez plays a clinic doctor and was marvelous in her role. And of course what would a Bruce Campbell movie be without a chainsaw? 4 1/2 stars. Acting is not something Bruce Campbell does well, but we love to watch it anyway. The twists is what made the movie humorous.
No F-bombs, no sex, no nudity.
Being that Burn Notice is one of my favorite shows I thought it would be worth the watch. Lucky I didn't fee disappointed. The film feels like a prequel to Burn Notice and having a story from Sam's point of view.
It also gives us a look into what Sam's life was like before the events of Burn Notice. Along with the fact they actually took their time in this TV movie
The acting in the film matches that of the TV series and it works very well and Bruce does a good job and shows why he was picked to play Sam Axe. The music in the film is good and the story is strong enough to hold your attention.
Overall Burn Notice: The Fall Of Sam Axe is a good prequel to Burn Notice and fill you in on the history of Sam Axe.
I give Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe an 8 out of 10
The Fall of Sam Axe tells the origin story of our titular hero, his early antics and adventures in the deep jungles of Columbia.
It sets itself apart from the show well and doesn't really utilize the other cast much. It does however still feel like Burn Notice, what with the familiar beloved character, story development style and narration.
I was concerned whether it would work but as Campbell has proven time and time again he works just fine as a leading man. Combine that with a surprisingly great supporting cast including Pedro "Game of Thrones" Pascal and the roster is a solid one.
Maintaining that perfect balance of seriousness and comedic elements this spinoff movie is really enjoyable, heartfelt and a very worthy addition to the Burn Notice franchise.
Burn Notice with even more Bruce Campbell? Yes please!
That Burn Notice charm
Nothing springs to mind