Steven Seagal is definitely in “Fat Elvis” mode in this color-by-numbers honest-cop against corruption story. He’s got Wayne Newton-style black hair and a William Shatner-style sucked-in paunch, and I suspect that at least some of the cuts in the fight scenes were added to give him some time to catch his breath.
No surprises here at all. Seagal plays a break-the-rules cop who takes on a whole team of commandos to save the Vice President and then gets dressed down by his commanding officer (“You don’t follow orders! You’re unmanageable!”) and assigned to the toughest precinct in town as punishment. He even gets put on traffic duty and sent to anger management class by the gorgeous precinct commander. But somehow, wherever he goes, trouble finds him, and people we think are good guys turn out to be bad and people we think are bad guys turn out to be good. Yawn.
Seagal has aged since his “Under Siege” days, and he now does more shooting than kicking. The movie tries to help him out with a lot of support from talented co-stars. Rapper DMX has a very strong screen presence, though it wavers when he has to say more than a dozen words at a time. It is always a pleasure to see Isaiah Washington, who deserves a leading role the next time around. Michael Jai White makes the most of his brief time on screen. Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson (quickly becoming the movies’ favorite fat funny sidekick) are there to provide comic relief. Their raunchy improvised dialogue that accompanies the credits is one of the movie’s high points. The low point is certainly the plot, which has logic holes big enough for Seagal, Arnold, and Anderson to jump through, followed by the dialogue, which is pretty much cut and pasted from a dozen other scripts of this genre. The title is just a menacing term that has nothing whatsoever to do with the story, further evidence that no one involved really cares very much about this movie.
Parents should know that the movie is very violent, with graphic injuries and the death of at least one major character. There is also the obligatory nightclub scene with erotic topless dancers smearing something all over each other. Characters use strong language and there is even stronger language in the soundtrack, including repeated use of the n-word. On the positive side, there are strong, loyal, brave women and minority characters.
Families who see this movie should talk about real-life cases of police corruption and the temptations presented to people who risk their lives for low pay and little thanks. They may also want to talk about how we decide whom we will trust, and what happens when that trust is violated, and about “anger management” and how it works.
Families who enjoy this movie will also enjoy “Gone in 60 Seconds” and “Romeo Must Die,” as well as Seagal’s best film, “Under Siege.”