'Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe'
(Bruce Campbell, Kiele Sanchez, RonReaco Lee, Pedro Pascal, Ilza Rosario, et al / DVD / NR / 2011 / 20th Century Fox)
Overview: Bruce Campbell stars in this explosive, feature-length adventure from the secret files of Burn Notice! On his final mission as a Navy Seal, Commander Sam Axe (Campbell) is sent deep into the jungles of South America, where a deadly terrorist organization threatens innocent lives. But when Sam discovers that he is merely a pawn in a far-reaching and diabolical plot, he must fight to stay alive long enough to stop the real terrorists - at any cost.
DVD Verdict: Well, either the great Bruce Campbell wears padding and duly makes himself look 60 on Burn Notice or there is some incredible (body) CGI going on for this man in 'The Fall of Sam Axe'! The man does look 10 years younger, has not stomach to speak of and throws himself around like a 20 year-old stunt man!
And so to this made-for TV movie, one which I knew going in would probably have some cheesy sets and some sub-par Burn Notice speeches. But, and aside from the cheesy opening court room sets, 'The Fall of Sam Axe' was as spot on entertaining as any episode of Burn Notice. In fact, it had the budget of half a season of BN, was co-written by Matt Nix (BN writer/creator), was executive produced by Nix, Jeffrey Donovan and Campbell, was filmed nearly-entirely in Bogota, and was directed by Donovan also!
The film opens on a decidedly whimsical note as in 2005 Campbell faces a military tribunal for an escapade gone wrong - one he was forced to go on because he was caught doing the naughty with his Admiral's wife! Donovan even pops up for a quick role as Michael to give Sam some advice, but it goes unheeded and so Sam finds himself knee deep in Bogota unrest.
A double cross down in Botota - one that you can see coming a mile off - quickly puts Sam in the thick of things (wearing bright, sky blue combats as a cruel joke by the Admiral!) protecting an altruistic hospital (not to mention one of its incredibly beautiful/dedicated American doctors, Kiele Sanchez of 'The Glades'). For most the movie, due to a massive language barrier, Sam speaks pidgeon Spanish - badly, at first, wickedly precise in the latter stages.
A precocious teen seems to want to either help or hinder his plan, but in the end he trusts her and she joins the gang. In one classic escape plot, Campbell reverts back to his Evil Dead days when he raises a running chainsaw high above it head, one-handed! We also find out how his undercover name Chuck Finlay came about, which is fun.
I won't give away the ending, but part of Burn Notices' charm comes from stylish adventure and a palpable sense of danger. Luckily for all concerned, there is nothing straightforward or visually lacking here. Indeed, as Campbell himself says in the special feature, The Fall of Jeffrey Donovan, "This is not some crappy TV show, it's like a real feature film!" And as for that special feature in whole, it is a very funny, very dark behind-the-scenes look at the director and his acting techniques! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.77:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
The Fall Of Jeffrey Donovan
Audio Commentary Featuring Matt Nix, Bruce Campbell and Jeffrey Donovan