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August 30, 2015

Review: Bruce Campbell's Charisma Anchors Uneven 'Burn Notice' Movie

by Maureen Ryan, posted Apr 15th 2011 11:00AM
It takes a brave man to go up against the premiere of HBO's much-hyped 'Game of Thrones,' but Bruce Campbell has never been one to shy away from a fight.

Campbell stars in 'Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe' (9PM ET Sunday, USA), a two-hour TV movie that rests largely on the actor's avuncular charm. But don't go into 'The Fall of Sam Axe' expecting a dose of what 'Burn Notice' does at its best. It's less ambitious and a good deal less slick than the USA show.

The fairly predictable 'Sam Axe' plot isn't much to write home about, nor will the movie's production values and supporting cast put Miami, Michael Westen or Fiona Glenanne out of your mind. Still, if you take it for what it is -- Bruce Campbell using his approachable charisma in yet another low-budget movie involving a fair amount of bloodshed -- 'The Fall of Sam Axe' isn't a terrible way to spend two hours.

But to enjoy the movie at all, you really need to go into it knowing that it's divorced from anything that has ever transpired on 'Burn Notice.' The movie, which mostly takes place in Colombia, depicts Sam before he retired from the military and became the beer-swilling companion of Westen, an ex-spy, and pyrotechnics expert Glenanne.

There is one scene early on that features Sam the Navy SEAL having a few drinks with his old buddy Westen (Jeffrey Donovan, who also directed the film), but after that, Sam is on a solo mission. Down in Columbia, where his bosses have sent Sam after one of his more flagrant indiscretions, he meets up with members of the Colombian military, who want his help dealing with a group of rebels in the jungle.

Things with the rebels and the military aren't exactly what they seem, and it's not hard to figure out that the mission went sideways, given that the film begins with Sam being questioned by the U.S. military brass on what went wrong.

The movie does use a couple of 'Burn Notice' signatures: Sam's testimony before the military board provides a running narration for the film, and, just as Westen does, Sam takes matters into his own hands in order to help the little guy. You won't be shocked by the presence of improvised explosives.

Even though Campbell exudes a great deal of charm, the supporting characters in the 'Burn Notice' film are one-dimensional at best, and the humorous and dramatic moments are sketched out in pretty broad strokes. Yet Campbell squeezes every scrap of comedic potential from the script, and there are a couple of enjoyable references to the actor's movie oeuvre.

Despite a draggy section in the middle of the film, 'The Fall of Sam Axe' just about works as a B-grade diversionary tactic. But for some 'Burn Notice' devotees, it may prove that Sam belongs with a beer in his hand, preferably in the vicinity of Michael Westen and Fiona Glenanne.

Follow @MoRyan on Twitter.

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This was AWFUL AWFUL STUPID DUMB!!! navy interrogator had no rank on collar STUPID SHOW!! I tivo's this trash and spent about 15 mins WHAT WASTE OF TIEM STYOOOOOOOPID!!! Give us teh real Burn Notices. TRASH!

April 19 2011 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Annie Bulloch

I can guarantee I've watched worse Bruce Campbell movies than this, so I'm sure I'll survive. Burn Notice isn't exactly Shakespeare on its best day, but it's breezy entertainment most of the time.

April 15 2011 at 4:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Annie Bulloch's comment

Burn Notice teh eal one is my 4th favorite shwo. This trash was AWFUL! I'll be teh advertises ae pissed about this dumb show. TG for TIVO I saw it in 15 mins or so

April 19 2011 at 1:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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