General Commander (2018) 85 minutes / Rated R
Jake Alexander (and his C.I.A. team) are in Thailand, out to stop a shady organ trafficking business (run by Camorra Mafia boss Ortessi). However, when one their own team (who's been planted in their sting, as the traffickers next donor) is shot dead in the stand-off, Alexanders C.I.A. handlers are less than impressed with the results, and attempt to disband the team by separating them on different missions. Alexander and this team, refuse this sanction and quit the organization (saddened by the death of their fallen comrade....and sickened by the bureaucratic red tape)
Alexander (now essentially 'unemployed') secures private funding from a millionairess (who owes him a favour or two) to afford the high tech satellite technology needed to not only track down his disbanded team....but to also catch Ortessi (who unbeknownst, has traveled from Malta to Cambodia to seek revenge against Alexander)
The Hunt is on.
As we're all aware, General Commander was meant to be a 10 part TV series, that fell through. Thankfully it was shot in sequence, so I'm assuming that what we have here (on screen) is the pilot episode and roughly half of the second episode. The second episode (I'm guessing) is the wrap round for this movie, and concerns Alexanders C.I.A. Boss questioning him and his team two weeks after the initial events at the start (a little like' Killing Salazar' did with Seagal & Luke Goss)
Luckily (and unlike the True Justice movie-mash-up's) General Commander has one coherent singular story (so it's not as fragmented) but I will admit that's it's forever jumping locations (plus on-screen information and overhead satellite shots) did become tiring after a while.
Seagal seems to be (at long last) accepting his advancing years, as evidenced in the fact that he seems to be greying round the gills (and goatee) and even has his new female backer remarking (quote) "At Your Age?"
(when he asks for capital to start up his own agency) However (a little like 'Killing Salazar' before it) Seagal spends a little too much sitting down in this movie.
Performance wise, Seagal seems a little more invested than usual. He seems to be sharing (on screen) the real-life sentiment (or is that resentment) he feels towards the American Government. And given the many real-life 'witch-Hunts' he's endured, the fact/fiction lines get a little bit blurred as he barks out some of his dialogue.....which (if anything) makes it more impassioned than usual.
However, he has one really good monologue aimed at his American C.I.A. handler, who has tried (unsuccessfully) to have him bumped off:
"Listen to me, you motherf**ker.
I know all of your f**king amoral, dirty rotten criminal sh*t.
And I don't care
I got my own fish to fry.
You sent somebody to kill me
......and you missed.
You know what that means?
You make another f**king move or blink the wrong way
I will kill you.
I will kill your f**king mother.
I will kill your f**king dog"
This is the enraged Seagal that's been absent from the last decade or so (since around the time of 'Urban Justice')
Plot wise, it's a rather meandering affair. It starts like the (worse) second half of 'Attrition' and ends rather much like 'Contract To Kill' (which I know gets no love round here, except from me) Seagal is pretty much present throughout the running time (unlike 'True Justice') but when he isn't, it tries (at very least) to flesh out his team (and give them some backstory...unlike 'Attrition') Because of the locations, it's a very vibrant looking movie (with rich colours) Cinematography is first rate, and the music is high end (partly because TV seems to have eclipsed cinema over the last decade or so, production value-wise) My main gripe is that it's no different than his last few movies, in that it's Seagal utilizing technology and a team of others to get the job done (as opposed to using brutal one-to-one aikido)
There's only two fights (and I'm afraid to say, they're pretty much shown in near entirety in the trailer) The first one doesn't come til the 49 minute mark (when Seagal gets the drop on a hit-man, out to get him) and one at the climax (with the main bad guy)
Apart from a few 'Avid Fart' moments of on-screen intel and rapid fast-cut satellite shots, the action is pretty well spread out (but rather much like the fights, are pretty much evidenced in the trailers) We get 2 car-crashes, 3-4 shoot-outs and a helicopter attack. The CGI blood (whilst not as frequent as previous movies) is still there (and still looks lousy) Yet there's a much better (extremely gruesome) neck-slitting (involving practical FX) around the halfway mark (which makes up for it)
General Commander is competent enough, and (unlike 'True Justice') seemed to have an interesting enough set-up to warrant a full series. My guess is that, subsequent episodes would feature Alexander (and his team) globe-trotting around the world, creating their own missions (now free of their C.I.A. shackles) and maybe it's these ambitions (also initially promised in the press-release for this series) that ultimately proved to be too costly for Philippe Martinez? (and Co.)
But sadly, what is (otherwise) pretty fast-paced for a 60 minute TV show, proves to be a little bit of a lull when stretched out to 85 minutes. Tighter editing is required here....but given that they've used whatever was shot...the results are OK (if once again, a little too much like a B-movie attempt at a Mission Impossible-lite franchise?)
If you didn't like 'Contract To Kill' (or indeed the latter half of 'Attrition') then there's not much to recommend here. Personally, I'd like to see Seagal go solo again and lead a one-man team (i.e, himself) in future movies. Because the (all too brief) fight scenes on display here, prove he can still kick ass.
Also, he might want to think up new character names.....He's played an 'Alexander' about 4 times now (and none of them related)
Because it was meant to be a TV series, the ending is very ambiguous indeed.
Come the finale, the C.I.A. handler (that Seagal threatened earlier) orders a drone strike on Alexander and his wife (played by his real-life wife) and just as we see the missile hit their location, the screen blacks out. No doubt this would have been resolved in the next episode, it's just left hanging up in the air that the C.I.A. have actually killed Alexander at the end? (and with the 'General Commander' series scrapped, it certainly looks that way)
**END OF SPOILER ALERT**
Here's a few screenshots