johnlink ranks UNDER SIEGE (1992)

This movie falls under my March to 200 Reviews, not because it is good, but because I used to watch it so damn much. When I joined Columbia House back in 1995 or 1996 or whatever it was, this was one of the first ‘one cent’ VHS tapes I got. I used to watch the shit out of this movie. It’s probably been since, oh, 1999 or 2000 since I’ve seen it.

I watched UNDER SIEGE (1992) on 10.2.10. It was, by best guess, my twentieth viewing of the film, but the first in at least ten years. TRAILER HERE

I wouldn’t go so far to say that this movie is fairly good in spite of Steven Seagal, but it’s not too far off. The fault is not all his own, the direction of the heroic character makes him too infallible. Where John McClane in DIE HARD got the shit beat out of him at every turn, Seagal’s cook is just untouchable. The one time he’s trapped happens because he allows it to, the one time he is hurt happens as a near intentional sacrifice to get them off his trail for a moment, and that doesn’t matter anyway because he is fine five minutes later. The movie just makes it all too easy for him because, including the last fight, there is no real danger.

The mild success of this film can be fully understood by watching Gary Busey and Tommy Lee Jones. UNDER SIEGE is at least smart enough to know that you are only as good as your bad guys, and the movie has two great ones. All time greats? Maybe not. But Busey and Tommy have a ton of fun hamming it up and not taking themselves seriously at all. They are the most entertaining part of the movie. Those are the smart casting decisions. Hiring Playboy model Erika Eleniak to be, big stretch here, a Playboy model/lead actress, is not so smart.

The formula is pretty standard. Get a lone hero isolated somewhere with a team of bad guys and set him loose. At some point hostages are endangered, and he has to outsmart the bad guys to save them. The problem with the writing in this movie is that the ‘danger’ is only at the most convenient times. Otherwise, the hero (and soon, his team) are able to wander the ship at will. I’m not expecting this to be a top level script, but it fails a lot of common sense tests.

Even so, it stays in my collection because when Tommy Lee Jones is allowed to roll in a movie, there isn’t a much better performer to be seen. This is right before THE FUGITIVE, and he basically plays the same sort of character he did there, but as a villain. Fun stuff with little to no substance. Plus two great early career cameos from 24’s Glenn Morshower (with bright orange hair!) and The Closer’s Raymond Cruz.



3+8+4+3+0= 18


~ by johnlink00 on October 3, 2010.

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