Back in the day, Fred Williamson was nothing if not industrious, banging out movies at a rapid pace regardless of whether he had stories worth telling; the guiding principle of his Po’ Boy Productions seemed to be exploiting Williamson’s marginal box-office power as much as possible before the party ended. Hence junk on the order of Mr. Mean, which Williamson reportedly cobbled together during downtime while acting in the Italian-made war picture The Inglorious Bastards (1978), even enlisting that film’s crew for help. Naturally, the pastiche story is not Mr. Mean’s strongest element, although it should be said that one is hard-pressed to identify anything about Mr. Mean that could be appropriately described as “strong.” The gist is that Mr. Mean (Williamson), whom everyone in the picture actually calls by that name, is an American hit man summoned to Italy because a mobster needs another mobster killed, but for political reasons cannot task his own people with the murder. Intrigue of some sort ensues. Almost completely bereft of characterization, emotion, logic, and momentum, Mr. Mean is a sloppy compendium of chase scenes, fights, macho posturing, and shootouts. However, don’t let the preceding list create the impression Mr. Mean is exciting. A typically pointless scene features Williamson, wearing a barely-there banana hammock, jogging in slow motion down a beach alongside a generic Eurobabe. Yes, even though Mr. Mean is ostensibly a thriller about an assassin, much of the picture feels like a keepsake of Williamson’s Mediterranean vacation, or, worse, a narcissistic celebration of beholding the glory that is Fred Williamson. If you dig Fred as much as Fred does, then you might find something to enjoy here. If not, then maybe the repetitive jams that R&B act the Ohio Players composed and recorded for the soundtrack will shake your groove thang.
Mr. Mean: LAME