This film is the directorial debut of cinematographer Alexander Gruszynski. See more »
From the time the terrorist activates the bomb and starts the countdown from 05:00 to the time we see the bomb in the back of the helicopter 1:20 of screenplay has been shown but the counter has only counted down to 3:58. See more »
It's been a busy year for Steven Seagal, with almost innumerable films added to his CV. Many films, but a generally bog standard of movies, with Today You Die, rivalling last years atrocious Out Of Reach in the crappola stakes. Thankfully Black Dawn marks a vast improvement in thrills for a Seagal film and his best film since his big comeback, Exit Wound's a far, far away now, 4 years ago. This is also far better than the Foreigner, the film for which this is essentially a sequel to.
The film is very much in the style of the Bourne movies with the formula agency spooks and espionage stuff. It's very formulaic however the film is done with more intelligence than many of these kind of DTV nuclear/political conspiracy films, which albeit still doesn't mean it's all that intelligent. What I can say about this film, that sadly I haven't been able to say about recent Seagal flicks, is that there is a level of competence to the film and also Seagal himself doesn't stink up the movie as he did with the otherwise okay Submerged. The film is well shot and looks decent and although the editing is a little to flashy at times it generally is slick and gives the film a polished look. The cinematography goes for a naturalistic look like the Bourne films did. The score also ranges from decent, when it is ripping off John Powell's Bourne scores, to a bit lazy and average during action scenes and less important scenes.
As for the action: This is also a mixed bag with gun fights ranging from competent to lazily and quickly constructed. While the fight sequences, which are extremely few and brief, are poor. The poorness of the fights however are due to the fact that Seagal isn't present in any of them, even though his character is involved. They are poor because Seagal is hardly even used for inserts and his double is constantly being used so the director is attempting to hide this fact. As a result the fights are incredibly disorientating leaving you unsure if Seagal's character is even fighting. However there is a great car chase and the film also includes some impressive stunts. Stunt-Co-ordinator Dicky Beer certainly gives the film some excitement in periods and does a good job.
As for the big guy himself? Well Seagal it must be said is far more interested this time around. He at least performs all his own dialogue, as far as I was aware. However what is still evident is that clearly he isn't really enjoying himself too much. He also has that expected, but still annoying tendency to lazily and breathily whisper all his dialogue, with a "I hate this crap dialogue!" look on his face. There is still also the fact that Seagal regularly uses a stand in, as well as overworking his stunt double again. The film has a strange feeling to it in another respect and that is the sheer fact that overall Seagal doesn't have a lot of screen time considering he is the main lead. This means there is more focus, perhaps too much on the bad guys. Seagal disappears on occasion for up to 5 minutes. I would guess that Seagal was probably only involved in about 70% of the shooting schedule. Whether this fact is due to laziness, contract stipulation or other filming commitments (after all he does do 4 movies a year now!) I don't know, it just feels strange for the lead to go awol so often for so long.
The film is also blessed with a good supporting cast compared to other Seagal flicks. The bad guys aren't too clichéd while John Pyper Ferguson is a welcome casting, even though he seems to be putting on a bizarre accent (his character is British). Tamara Davies is hot and all round decent as Seagal's sidekick while Seagal's character is also slightly more interesting than usual cause Jonathan Cold I feel isn't a cut and dried good guy. This guy has his bad side unlike Seagal's usual goody two-shoes image.
Overall this is a marked improvement for Seagal. The first and last 20 minutes are pretty good and even though the middle section drags quite a bit the film still never had that feeling of being terrible like Today You Die. The film has it's own action too, not borrowing from other films and the car chase is excellent. Seagal fans will be pleased with this and I was surprised by my enjoyment levels for this especially after the diabolically bad trailer the movie had. Still though, Stevo has some work to do. Shadows Of The Past sounds like it has promise though. **
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