For four years viewers have gotten to see Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell) charm his way through Miami as the faithful friend of Michael Weston who lives off lady friends, Mojitos and his serviceable but not large Navy pension. Sam’s role is as the best friend for Michael who still has connections throughout the intelligence community and provides Michael with the critical information he needs though he also has the ability to provide tactical support when things get hairy.
The Fall of Sam Axe brings to light the end of Sam’s career in the Navy and how he wound up in Miami. As he is brought into an informal inquiry by a pair of MP guards the atmosphere begins to resemble one of an informal court martial. Sam is told to recall the events of his previous mission to Columbia though the pretense of it being a simple fact gathering meeting are shattered when he is asked to tell his story under oath. When told to begin he starts with the real beginning of why an aging (for the service) SEAL is sent alone to Columbia and how the mission became a disaster.
The story starts with Sam having a good time in bed with an attractive woman only to be surprised first by her telling him she is married and they both get a surprise when her husband arrives home unexpectedly. Worse for Sam, her husband is an Admiral in the Navy who sends Sam alone on a mission down to Columbia and to make the point clear that this is punishment Sam is issued urban cameo fatigues. He meets with a Columbian official who tells him of a guerilla group that has been causing trouble in the area and is targeting a charity clinic run by some Western doctors. Sam is dispatched with a small Columbian military force lead by a man named Veracruz and when they attempt to evacuate the clinic they are met with resistance to the idea.
The group Sam is with makes camp near the clinic and Sam is told to stay in camp while the Veracruz’s force does some scouting. Being a SEAL Sam decides to do some recon on his own and discovers that he is playing a role in a ruse to get some more American weapons to the military when the military group fakes a guerrilla attack and wipes out the doctor’s office. Sam decides that he is switching sides and fakes his abduction by the guerillas to try to fool Veracruz and buy him some time to get the people out of the clinic before they are wiped out. Sam uses some of the skills Burn Notice fans have come to love as he uses some of the clinic’s supplies to set an elaborate decoy to buy them some time.
Thanks to a young woman Sam has met when he first visited the clinic he is introduced to the guerilla force he was sent to fight and discovers he is in for much more work than he could have feared when they fall far short of their rumored skills. Sam will be risking his life to try to help the people from the guerilla group and clinic escape and he may be forced to cross a few lines in doing so will land him in incredibly hot water, but hey the chances of him living through his current situation are so low he’ll likely be killed before he can make it to Court Martial.
The Fall of Sam Axe is very much in keeping with the spirit of Burn Notice as it features the good hearted Samaritan helping out a lost cause because he cannot turn his back on their plight. It is also a bit low in the budget department and in a number of scenes it shows as the effects come off a bit cheesy. Fans of Bruce Campbell will find much of what they have come to love in the character. It also looks like Campbell took the role very seriously as he has lost a decent bit of the girth he displays in the TV series as a retired man who spends great parts of his days drinking. Sadly the movie isn’t a great stand alone film and really works best for fans of the series. The plot is a bit on the thin side as clichés get recycled in exchange for action scenes, though a few like the last scene do appear to have a budget behind it. If you love Burn Notice or Bruce Campbell this will be a feature that will hold some weight though the absence (minus one scene) of the other actors really stretches the series formula quite a bit. It is a decent fan piece which will standout for those who already are fans but isn’t likely to convert anyone new to the series on its merits alone. It is a feature version of a candy bar where it has a big sugary rush but not a lot of substance to the empty calories though it can be a great treat for those looking for that rush.