Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe

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Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe
Sam axe movie.jpg
Promotional poster
Based on Burn Notice 
by Matt Nix
Screenplay by Matt Nix
Story by Matt Nix
Greg Hart
Directed by Jeffrey Donovan
Starring Bruce Campbell
Kiele Sanchez
RonReaco Lee
Chandra West
John Diehl
Pedro Pascal
Ilza Rosario
Jeffrey Donovan
Narrated by Bruce Campbell
Theme music composer John Dickson
Country of origin United States
Producer(s) Aaron Ginsburg
Lorenzo O'Brien
Editor(s) Steven Lang
Cinematography Jaime Reynoso
Running time 87 minutes
89 minutes (extended version)
Original channel USA Network
Original release
  • April 17, 2011 (2011-04-17) (United States)
External links

Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe is a 2011 American television film based on the USA Network television series Burn Notice. It was the first official Burn Notice spin-off, and was directed by Jeffrey Donovan. The show was broadcast in the United States on April 17, 2011, on the U.S. television network USA Network. The film, while not an episode of the show, introduced plot elements for the show's fifth season.


Set two years before the pilot episode, the film is narrated by Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), who is being questioned by Admiral Lawrence (John Diehl) about a mission in Colombia. Sam reveals that he had unwittingly had an affair with a superior's wife (Chandra West). After being caught, Sam was assigned a dangerous mission: to track down a terrorist group known as the Espada Ardiente.

Sam travels to Colombia, where he meets his new team, which includes Comandante Veracruz (Pedro Pascal). He tells a local clinic that they are in danger. However, he is ignored by the two people there, Ben Delaney (RonReaco Lee) and Amanda Maples (Kiele Sanchez). Later, while Sam is scouting the area, he discovers that Veracruz and his men are preparing to betray him. Sam once again attempts to warn the clinic, but they continue to ignore him. After Veracruz realizes that Sam is gone, he plans to destroy the clinic. A local girl, Beatriz (Ilza Rosario) tells Sam what is about to happen. Sam finally succeeds in convincing Ben and Amanda of the danger, and persuades them to leave, taking all of the clinic patients with them. Sam and Ben stay behind to blow up the clinic themselves to create a distraction. The plan works, and all escape.

Beatriz suggests fleeing to the Espada Ardiente, Sam's original assignment. Having no other option, Sam agrees. Upon their arrival, Sam discovers that the Espada Ardiente are nothing more than mostly elderly goat herders on a small farm. They were merely a ruse for Veracruz to carry out his betrayal. Disappointed, Sam sneaks back to Veracruz's camp in an attempt to call for support. After he makes the phone call, Veracruz captures Sam. Fortunately, the Espada Ardiente arrive to save Sam. Sam, Ben, Amanda, and the "goat herders" travel to a CIA outpost to ask for help. Along the way, they are attacked by Veracruz and his men, but because of previous training by Sam, they make it to the outpost. When they arrive, they find it empty, except for two men and some radio equipment. When the men are told about the situation, they call for help. The men tell Sam that nothing will be done until Sam travels to the base first. Sam and the two men leave on a helicopter, promising Ben, Amanda, and the Espada Ardiente that they will return. Once the helicopter is in the air, however, the two agents confess to Sam that nothing will be done, and the others will be left to fend for themselves. Sam then forces them to land at gunpoint, and takes them hostage.

The story flashes back to the present. The inquiry has taken a bad turn for Sam, and Admiral Lawrence now asks if Sam wants a lawyer. Sam refuses and continues his story. Back on the ground, the CIA men are forced to call for help. They learn that the nearest help is three hours away. Sam, the doctors, and the Espada Ardiente are forced to fight Veracruz and his men. They run out of ammunition, and are forced to retreat back to the outpost. Sam, using the alias "Chuck Finley", asks again how long it will be before help arrives. He learns that it won't be enough time.

Sam leaves the outpost to distract Veracruz. They assault him and open fire on the outpost. Fortunately, help arrives, and Veracruz and his men are captured. Sam and Amanda kiss, and Sam is escorted back to the base, where he begins his testimony.

Admiral Lawrence evaluates the situation and, based on Sam's actions with the CIA agents, threatens Sam with a court martial. However, Sam reveals that Beatriz photographed the entire operation and is prepared to turn over all evidence of it to Colombia's largest newspaper at his request. He strikes a graymail deal with Lawrence, promising to remain silent in exchange for an honorable discharge, a full pension, a first-class plane ticket to the city of his choice (Miami), a change of clothes, and one ice-cold beer.



Jeffrey Donovan, star of Burn Notice, directed the film and made a small cameo appearance.


The film was announced in the summer of 2010 at the annual San Diego Comic-Con, and it was revealed that it would serve as a lead-in to the show's fifth season.[1] Jeffrey Donovan, star of Burn Notice was later announced to be the director of the film.[2] Donovan had made his directorial debut one year earlier with the Burn Notice fourth season episode "Made Man".


The full cast was confirmed by January 2011, and included Bruce Campbell, Chandra West, RonReaco Lee, Kiele Sanchez and John Diehl.[3] Jeffrey Donovan made a small, previously unannounced cameo appearance as Michael Westen, the main character of Burn Notice.


Filming began in January 2011 in Bogota, Colombia.[3]


Critical reviews[edit]

The film received mostly mixed reviews. Matt Fowler of IGN gave it a 7 out of 10, calling it an "enjoyable distraction," but adding that it "fails to live up to Sam Axe standards."[4] Scott Von Doviak of the A.V. Club gave the film a B-, explaining that it "sounded promising" but "has the routine rhythms of a straight-to-DVD action movie sequel." He went on to add that "fans should enjoy Campbell's performance, but Sam Axe deserved a more interesting fall."[5] Rob Frappier of Screen Rant wrote that "Matt Nix has done a great job," specifically because of Sam's consistently funny "zingers." He later said that fans would enjoy the film.[6]


The event was viewed by 3.57 million viewers upon its first airing. In the 18–49 demographic, there were 1.44 million viewers.[7] It was the 23rd most-watched show on cable television that week.[8]


Towards the end of the film, Sam Axe adopts the alias "Deputy Assistant Intelligence Director Chuck Finley" from the NSA headquarters when calling for help over the radio. Chuck Finley has been the alias Sam Axe uses throughout the TV series when impersonating someone.

The members of the Espada Ardiente give Sam Axe the nickname "la barbilla", which is Spanish for "the chin", a reference to actor Bruce Campbell's signature feature (one he references in the title of his autobiography "If Chins Could Kill..."). When told about his new nickname, Sam Axe pauses for a moment and then responds: "The chin? That doesn't make any sense."

One of the members of Espada Ardiente uses a chainsaw to remove a tree, which had blocked the road during their escape. When they are attacked shortly afterwards by Veracruz's troops, Axe picks up the chainsaw and throws it at the attackers. Bruce Campbell's character Ash Williams used a chainsaw as a weapon throughout the The Evil Dead franchise, which made Campbell famous.


  1. ^ "Watch the Comic-Con Panel!". USA Network. Retrieved August 10, 2010. 
  2. ^ Abrams, Natalie (November 30, 2010). "Jeffrey Donovan to Direct Burn Notice's Sam Axe Prequel". TV Guide. 
  3. ^ a b Mitovich, Matt Webb (January 31, 2011). "Exclusive: Burn Notice Prequel Rounds Out Cast". TVLine. Retrieved 2011-04-20. 
  4. ^ Fowler, Matt (April 18, 2011). "Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe Review". IGN TV. IGN. Retrieved May 25, 2011. 
  5. ^ Von Doviak, Scott (April 17, 2011). "Burn Notice: "The Fall of Sam Axe"". A.V. Club. Retrieved May 25, 2011. 
  6. ^ Frappier, Rob (April 17, 2011). "‘Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe’ Review and Discussion". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 25, 2011. 
  7. ^ Seidman, Robert (April 18, 2011). ""Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe" Movie Averages 3.6 Million". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 25, 2011. 
  8. ^ Seidman, Robert (April 19, 2011). "Cable Top 25: 'Pawn Stars' > Melo & KG & 'Lemonade Mouth' + 'WWE RAW,' 'American Pickers,' 'Deadliest Catch' + More". TV by the Numbers. Retrieved May 25, 2011. 

External links[edit]