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A former Russian mobster named Ruslan, who is now a crime novelist, returns home and discovers his daughter is marrying his arch nemesis. His past also comes back to haunt him when his family is threatened. Hungry for justice, Ruslan returns to the life he once knew...with a vengeance. Written by
Actual quote from Seagal in this movie "I'm kind of a dinosaur "
So about a year ago I set out on a fallacy-ridden quest to watch every movie that Seagal has ever made, and while this has not exactly made for much high-quality entertainment, it has definitely given me a unique perspective on the evolution of Seagal's storied career. Although one of the first of Seagal's new generation of films that I watched was Urban Justice, which showed an aging and widening Seagal lurking around Los Angeles seeking a two- dimensional revenge for his son's murder, and Driven to Kill, as indicated by the title, is pretty much about exactly the same thing. Except this time the son is a daughter. Oh and he's a NOVELIST. Did I mention that? Did Stephen King write this thing?
My initial response to learning that Seagal plays a successful novelist was shock that they actually took my advice and tried to top Against the Dark for stupid story ideas, but it actually turned out to be one of the best things in the movie. The funniest things, anyway. Don't get me wrong, I have much more respect for Seagal than most people do. I have always been a fan of his films ever since I was a kid and he was making hardened action movies and I even still enjoy them now that they are growing less and less distinguishable from each other. But seeing Seagal's considerable mass parked in front of a computer while his meaty hands prance across the keys was quite a spectacle indeed. I would venture to guess that Seagal has never sat in front of a keyboard in his life!
Sure this is a digression, but it calls into question his logical thinking in the movie's opening scene. He is sitting with his daughter, to whom he is still the greatest man on earth, and she asks him to explain how he does that old trick with the three upside down paper cups, one of which has a metal spike in it. She moves the cups around with all possible slowness, challenging him to lose track of it, and then he slams his hand down on one of the cups, which smashes harmlessly. "How do you do it?" she asks incredulously. "The trick," he says, "is to just not give a f#%k."
Or, more likely, the trick is to not understand that one false move and your writing career will be in grave danger because your sluggish typing will now have to be done with one hand.
The plot from Hard to Kill is recycled into this one. Seagal plays a former Russian mobster named Ruslan, and when an attack leaves his daughter barely clinging to life, he insists that her attackers can't know she's dead in order to aid his revenge plot, which takes up the rest of the movie. Complicating matters is the fact that her daughter is set to marry the son of Ruslan's former gangster arch-enemy, who may have been behind the attack in the first place. Ruslan is torn from a charming life of living in his sun-drenched beach-house and meandering his fingers across his keyboard and back into a life of crime.
Seagal's performance is uninspired at best, but he has made a career out of uninspired performances. Or at least his career has fizzled out into one uninspired performances. Van Damme has done the same thing, but he changed everything in the outstanding 2008 film JCVD. This is what Seagal needs to do now to win back his respect as an actor, make something real and quit pumping out the lumpy, direct-to-DVD cheeseballs.
The rest of the actors are beside the point, they run distant second billing to an actor who passed his prime nearly 15 years ago (it happened in 1996, in case you're wondering), and so don't really merit being mentioned here. But a bigger problem is that the movie does that maddening thing where there are foreign characters, Russian, in this case, who switch back and forth at random between speaking Russian and speaking bad English. If you're going to make a movie with foreign characters, just start it out in their language and then casually switch to English for the rest of the movie, like in The Hunt For Red October, or just have them speak their own language for the entire movie and subtitle it. Switching back and forth just calls attention to it.
More importantly, the action is badly screwed up. There is nothing quite so boring as these stupid shoot-outs where a lot of guys take turns spraying machine gun fire at each other, taking turns pumping all their bullets into the walls and then hiding so the other guy can shoot his gun equally harmlessly. It's like a road where every single car is blowing it's horn. No one really pays attention anymore, it just becomes noise.
But if nothing else, you gotta watch the movie for the scene in a strip club. Seagal and the bad guy's son go to a strip club and go to a private room together with a stripper, and you should see how uncomfortable Seagal looks it is HILARIOUS!
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