Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Under Siege (The Series)

Under Siege (1992) * * *

Cast: Steven Seagal, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey, Erika Eleniak

Directed by Andrew Davis

Steven Seagal keeps his winning streak going, as Navy-SEAL turned cook Casey Ryback who is forced to use his Seal training and akidio skills to battle Hijackers who have captured a battle ship with nuclear capabilities. Leading the hijackers are Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey in two excellent performances which keep the momentum going during the breaks in action. Despite being heralded as Seagal’s best effort to date, this doesn’t quite scale the heights of Seagal’s underrated Out For Justice, as that gritty formula showcased Seagal’s form better, but Under Siege does offer plenty to enjoy and Seagal while playing essentially the same bad-ass thug he’s been typecast as, wisely underplays it, while letting Jones and (especially) Busey chew the scenery. Also pacing is somewhat of a problem as the film could stand to be trimmed by about 10 minutes, but overall when it comes to Seagal movies, it really doesn’t get much better than this. Indeed one also secretly suspects how much better it would’ve been with Bruce Willis or Schwarzenegger in the lead. That said Seagal does at least get to rip out throats and detonate a bomb with a microwave, so there is at least some fun to be had.
Under Siege 2:Dark Territory (1996) * * *

Cast: Steven Seagal, Eric Bogosian, Everett McGill, Morris Chestnut, Peter Greene, Katherine Heigl

Directed by Geoff Murphy

Steven Seagal rebounds from the trash-heap to the winning formula that made him a household name among action fans. This time Seagal plays the Navy Seal turned cook who this time has to battle hi-tech terrorists aboard a train, who plan on using a satellite to nuke various places in the world, the terrorists stand no chance against one man army Seagal, especially when they have his niece (Heigl) in tow. Without question this remains Seagal’s most farfetched and ridiculous movies to date. The movie has so many ludicrous subplots as well as no clearly explained motive on the bad guy’s part that isn’t beyond absurd. That said the movie still is worth seeing because there is a lot of exciting action and the suspense level remains high due to the close encounters space that Murphy directs with a good eye. Indeed the movie has Seagal jumping through various box-cars, climbing on top of the roof of the train and basically fight sequences centered around burning boxcars and crashing choppers. Bogosian and McGill are decent but no match for Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey from the original. Indeed if the film had gotten rid of the satellite angle and just kept Seagal going up against terrorists with hostages this would’ve been an easily better than the first. Such as it is, the satellite angle adds a science fiction element that is implausible and that stops the movie’s momentum at regular intervals.

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