Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Deadly Ground (1994) *

Cast: Steven Seagal, Michael Caine, John C. McGinley, Joan Chen

Directed by Steven Seagal

Seagal stars an Oil rig safety inspector that finds himself battling his employers (led by Caine in the film only intentionally ridiculous performance) after a disk is stolen that documents cover-ups and safety hazards known by the oil tycoons, Seagal is set up for a hit but (naturally) survives and trains with Native Americans “to be like the bear” in what is an unintentionally laughable eco-friendly thriller which features Seagal utter incompetence as a director. On Deadly Ground is well photographed and the action sequences are adequately staged but this fiasco is pure camp. Michael Caine does show some class in a throwaway role in which he most likely got paid millions for, and despite a good cast, Seagal doesn’t know how to get in any acting out of them. Indeed everyone is black and white good and evil and nowhere in between. The film doesn’t get truly awful until it approaches the Billy Jack-like pacifism approach which finds Seagal almost like an updated version of Billy Jack. Where as one could forgive Billy Jack due to its 70s hippy atmosphere and that Laughlin was a competent director, On Deadly Ground is a disaster by comparison. Mainly because when viewers watch action movies they don’t want a lesson on environmental issues. Indeed the hysterical ending finds Seagal giving a deadly earnest speech about what we can do to help out Mother Nature, of course the fact that he blew up an oil rig and almost set the wilderness on fire to do it is an irony the film never overcomes.

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