Monday, December 13, 2010

Under Siege (1992)

For our first Steven Seagal movie, I thought I'd revisit what is arguably his best movie.  Under Siege was and still remains his most successful film and one where he shows his greatest depth and range as an actor.  In other words, he loses the ponytail.  The plot is simplicity itself.  Seagal plays Casey Ryback, a cook on board the U.S.S. Missouri who has to save the day when the ship is taken over by lunatic ex-CIA operative William Strannix (Tommy Lee Jones) and his team of mercenaries, one of whom is Star Trek vet Colm Meaney.

Jones makes for a great villain, cackling, doing that rapid fire dialogue Jones does so well and basically letting you not care that the lead of the movie is a charisma vacuum.  Fortunately, in this sort of movie a winning personality isn't a must and Seagal does his usual; solid, entertaining routine.  Mind you this was back when he actually had a viable mainstream career.  Recently, he's moved into the DTV realm and done well enough but it's just not the same.

Making things even more entertaining is the addition of Garey Busey as the second-in-command of the ship who turns out to be in with Strannix.  Busey is at his hilariously over the top best, dressing in drag at one point, hamming it up and generally acting like...Well, like how Garey Busey probably acts all day.  In every one of his films post-motorcycle accident it's likely he doesn't realize he's on a movie set.

Erika Eleniak does fine as Seagal's sidekick, a former Playmate named Jordan who amusingly enough proves to be rather adept with a machine gun.  It's a rare thing to find the comic relief sidekick entertaining, though in Ms. Eleniak's favor she is quite hot.  That helps things considerably.

The action is well directed by Andrew Davis and this proves to be one of his best movies along with The Fugitive.  Truthfully, I'm not a fan of most of his other films.  Above the Law is pretty good, The Package is quite good but Code of Silence is one of the few 80's action movies that genuinely piss me off.  That's a story for another day though.

Probably my favorite aspect of the film is the script and how it toys around with the Die Hard formula.  Strannix's first contact with the Pentagon is done mainly for chuckles with the bad guy's ranting clearly a put-on as Jones goes on and on while Busey and Meany stifle laughter in the background.

All this adds up to a film that stands as one of Seagal's best, the best Die Hard knockoff, possibly the best action film of 1992 and  one of my personal favorites.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.