Monday, July 5, 2010

On Deadly Ground

I want to like Steven Seagal. In the early ’90’s, he showed a lot of promise in the action genre. His films were not brilliant, mind you, but they got the job done with martial arts, firearms, and explosions. Since then, Seagal has fallen into a rut of infusing his movies with a moral message dear to him. Unfortunately, his efforts have relegated him, with few exceptions, to straight to video junk and a reality show on A & E.

It is sad to watch. Seagal not only acts, but writes, directs, produces, and often contributes to the soundtracks of his own films. He does so with suh conviction, I want to root for him. The problem is he is the quintessential jack of all trades and master of none. whatever message heats to send gets lost in campy filmmaking.

On Deadly Ground is the beginning of Seagal’s downward plue. He plays Forrest Taft, an expert in putting out oil rig fires. He discovers a recent oil rig accident blamed on his friend was actually due to faulty equipment from a corner cutting oil company run by a greedy jackass CEO Michael Jennings.

Jennings is played by Michael Caine, who was apparently again suffering from that momentary loss of reason that made him agree to star in The SwarmBeyond the Poseidon Adventure, and Jaws IV: the Revenge. Poor guy must go off his msds every eight years or so.

Tat is a crusading environmentalist when he is not beating up rednecks in local bars. While Taft indulges in much violent mayhem, explosions, and gunplay in an attempt to suit action fans, it is clear what Seagal really cares about is getting his environmental message out. Said message is that greedy oil companies will destroy anything to make a buck.

Seagal’s intent results in an incredibly obnoxious vanity piece. The oil company is pure evil. Employees at one point torture and old man by first breaking his fingers, then chopping his arms off The graphic scene is as excessive as it is implausibly dumb. The Eskimos threatened by the oil company’s negligence are doe eyed noble savages who send Taft on a vision quest full of naked women to convince him to fight Jennings.

He does, by not only blowing up the company’s oil rig, but lecturing the Alaska legislature to end oil drilling in the state--and they take heed!

Think about that for a minute. Taft just committed a massive act of terrorism by blowing up private property. He probably put hundreds or maybe thousands out of work by doing so. Then hegets to address the legislature to promote urban legends about oil companies suppressing cars that get one hundred miles to the gallon and such. With it, he convinces Alaska to abandon its largest source of revenue.

On second thought, do not think about it. Or see this movie. The action and nudity do not make up for the mind numbing preaching. I try to judge how well an artist presents his message even if I do not agree with it, but Seagal’s environmental sermon is so bad, I cannot deal with it. Even with the naked Eskimos.

Rating; * (out of 5)


  1. Without seeing this movie I would never know the answer to the eternal question: What does it take to change the essences of a man?

  2. Ha, I worked in the Alaska legislature for several years--if this guy ruined the oil industry up here the legislators themselves would probably lead the lynching party and he'd be hanging from a light pole in downtown Juneau.