Under Siege


Doesn’t Steven Seagal suck? The FBI agent/thug turned Tibetan monk doesn’t have much to offer. Yes, he’s buffed and he could probably kick my ass any given day, but he’s a lame actor. He doesn’t have Schwarzenegger’s powerful presence, Bruce Willis’ charm or even Van Damme’s enthusiastic ego. In fact, Seagal is barely superior to these martial arts losers who star in straight-to-video duds. His first four films were forgettable urban thrillers, so “Under Siege” was a welcomed change of pace, even if it is pretty lame. Seagal then directed and starred in the campy “On Deadly Ground”, and the makers of “Executive Decision” had the good idea of killing him in the first reel. As for his latest, “Fire Down Below”, it’s far from perfection, but Seagal’s acting has slightly improved and Felix Enriquez Alcalà is a promising action director.

The weirdest thing about “Under Siege” is that it features very little action scenes. Almost half of it is made of techno-military-strategical babble, you know, the kind of boring scenes in which a bunch of officers around a table discuss what they should do about terrorist situations. This time, the villain is Strannix, a deadbeat ex-CIA agent who takes over a battleship and the nuclear weaponry it carries. He’s very interestingly played by the gifted Tommy Lee Jones, who’s the best thing in the whole film. He’s helped by Krill, a corrupt officer played by the creepy Gary Busey. I loved him in “Lethal Weapon”, but here, he’s criminally underused. He doesn’t even have a fight scene, for Pete’s sake! As for Seagal, he plays a cook who happens to also be a Navy Seal. The terrorists achieve to control everyone on the ship, but they forgot the cook. As you can see, the film is yet another cheap “Die Hard” rip-off. Only, Seagal is light years from Bruce Willis, who brings wit and humor to his action heroes, and Andrew Davis is no John McTiernan. His direction is just average. The film also features Erika Eleniak, as a sexy but annoying Playmate (what a stretch!).

Actually, the film’s professionally made, but it’s unimaginative and way too slow. It does contain some neat explosions and shoot-outs, but only two of the action scenes are really exciting. There’s an ultraviolent sequence in which Seagal stabs guys, and a knife fight between Seagal and Jones which is cool even though it borrows heavily from the superior climax of “Commando”. Might be worth a rental.