Friday, October 19, 2012

Franchise Derailed: "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory" (1995)

Steven Seagal returns as former Navy Seal Casey Ryback in this less than enjoyable sequel to the surprise hit.

Seagal and bratty but cute niece Sarah (Katherine Heigl) are taking the train to go to a funeral. As luck would have it, evil genius Dane (a really good Eric Bogosian) and his evil henchman Penn (Everett McGill) hijack the train for evil purposes. They control a satellite that can cause earthquakes, and for a billion dollars will kill a few million people on the Eastern seaboard. Many generals and computer technicians watch helplessly as Ryback and the train's porter Bobby (Morris Chestnut) do battle with the baddies.

I will say this: Geoff Murphy does direct some very impressive action sequences. The special effects are sometimes obvious, but the action scenes are well done. Seagal was starting to slow down here, you can tell with sped up footage and obvious stuntman use, and his performance is typically monosyllabic. Bogosian is a delight as Dane. He's crazy, has some funny lines, and is more interesting than Seagal (then again, so is drying paint). Heigl is a typical bratty teen who learns to like her uncle, but I don't care who you are, Heigl is so hot you'll want to blow on her. Chestnut plays Bobby like a retard, I cannot believe the character lives as long as he does.

Lately, Seagal has not been able to open a film "big," joining Jean-Claude Van Damme and even Sylvester Stallone on the direct to video shelf. I think his more successful films carried him, not the other way around. If this had been made with a real actor, not an action hero, it might have made some money and continued the way the "Die Hard" series has. Of course, the "Under Siege" duo were direct lifts of the "Die Hard" series, but Bruce Willis is basically better on camera than Seagal is.

"Under Siege 2: Dark Territory" has a few exciting moments and performances, but it is still another lousy shoot-'em-up that the action hero based film genre is still trying to recover from. Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Seagal, Van Damme, and Willis all did well back in the day, this film is why Hollywood is now hesitant to put on "Die Hard 4" or yet another Indiana Jones flick.

Maybe Seagal could run for governor of his home state? I think more people would vote for him than saw his last film. (* *) out of five stars.