Maximum security. Maximum firepower.
Steven Seagal has released consistently watchable and enjoyable direct-to-video films for the past five years. Before that there were a few shaky ones, but with the possible exception of Against the Dark (his brief appearances in a vampire film) it's been a pretty good ride since 2007 with Renegade Justice aka Urban Justice, Pistol Whipped, Driven to Kill aka Ruslan, The Keeper, A Dangerous Man and Born to Raise Hell all being good to excellent DTV action films. Steven has been busy of late doing his TV series' Lawman and True Justice and I was wondering if we would get another film. Thankfully we did, and it's just as good as any of the others mentioned above. It's got action "newcomer" Steve Austin in it, and is directed by Keoni Waxman of Seagal's A Dangerous Man and Austin's Hunt to Kill fame.
It should be an easy day's work for Cross (Steven Seagal) and Manning (Steve Austin); overlook and orchestrate the closure of a military penal facility, and organise the transport of the final inmates to their new civilian prison. Cross shows who is boss early in the piece by beating up a 200kg inmate who steps out of line, while Manning is given the delightful task of running the garbage disposal. The day only gets worse when a rolled up note is found that was accidentally dropped by an inmate, detailing times and locations for an attack on the facility. Cross, on his way back to the prison and Manning, still dealing with that garbage disposal, are suddenly involved in a foothold situation as Chris Blake (Michael Pare) and his mercenaries, posing as marshalls, take over the complex in order to extract two of the prisoners - Samantha (Steph Song) and Charlotte (Aliyah O'Brien) - for their own purposes. And it's of course up to Cross, Manning and their phoned-in team of soldiers to sort this out!
The film is similar to Austin's own Tactical Force, except that in that film the good guys only had blank ammunition for training. Not so here; it's an automatic weapons festival! Being essentially one team of mercs. versus another team of mercs. you would expect this, and the film delivers in droves. Fast-firing rifles backed up with hand guns and even a few one-on-one close combat fights make this one of the more action-packed Seagal films in recent times. The dialogue is fairly light to accommodate the continual action; so much so that the only time I looked up at the clock was to see we were 70 minutes in and just about to kick into the final twenty minutes of yet more action and comeuppance for the bad guys.
Seagal and Austin share equal amounts of screen time here, which itself isn't dominating. A lot of the smaller players as well as Pare get their faces on camera. When Seagal and Austin do show up, they are almost always slap-fu'ing, drop-kicking, machine-gunning or launching fire extinguishers as rockets. Seagal appears to be doing most of the stunts himself this time round, which is great, and I doubt Austin even has a stuntman. The only real downside to the movie is the handful of occasions that Seagal speaks to Austin - their voices are both so low and gravelly I had a hard time trying to decipher what was being said!
Michael Pare is good fun as the renegade Chris Blake. It's good to see him taking time out from endless Uwe Boll films to join the big boys of action for a while. He's a little bit sadistic in getting what he wants, stabbing the poor warden in the hand and cutting off one of his fingers - ouch. Also on good form here is Australian actor Bren Forster as Bradley, who leads up Cross and Manning's squad of soldiers. Forster has some martial arts skills and gets to put them to use in a fight near the finale.
Overall this is one of the better DTV action films of the past few years. It's simple, it's direct and it never lets the plot get in the way of a good shootout. Just the way I like it! And there is more to look forward to as Steven Seagal teams up again with Director Keoni Waxman and co-stars Danny Trejo and Ving Rhames in Force of Execution!
There are no major highlights in the film as it is all fairly solid, but I especially enjoyed Steve Austin's various one-liners throughout the film. He breaks a guys elbow? "Does that hurt? You fuckin' pussy." He gets beaten up by a woman? "What the fuck, baby!" He impales a bad guy on a weights rack in the exercise yard? "No pain. No gain." Quality stuff!
Ex-rental blu-ray from Transmission Films. Great picture and sound quality as can be expected from modern DTV on blu-ray.