Worth A Look: 7.32%
Pretty Bad: 21.95%
Total Crap: 29.27%
8 reviews, 34 user ratings
If you expect anything other than a renegade hero who kicks all ass, a bland plot merely existing to showcase the violence, lots of cornball one-liners, and fairly flat secondary characters, then you must be waiting in your chair for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, because Exit Wounds will satisfy all lovers of the mindless, arm-snappin’, head kickin’ action flick. This is a welcome step backwards for Steve Seagal, who takes us back to the mindless vacuum of a story and gratuitous violence of his earliest films, sans ponytail and that mighty Glimmer Man gut.Generally speaking, I think you could safely say that if you’ve seen one Seagal movie, you’ve seen them all. For the first few of his flicks, they are typical late 80’s-early 90’s formulaic cop action movies, with lots of car crashes, gun battles, and bone breaks. Even so, I consider Above the Law a minor action classic, where a younger and slimmer Seagal teams up with Pam Grier in a somewhat typical but tremendously over the top plot filled with drug dealers, CIA conspiracies, and an amazing amount of strange plot touches and interesting action sequences. You have to admit, there is something interesting, better yet, captivating about the guy. Especially in his earliest stuff, he shows an amazing screen presence, although without much acting talent; that’s why he immediately fell into the rank of the successful and popular “second tier” action typecasts like Bronson, Norris, or Van Damme. And if he didn’t have whatever “mojo” he’s got, he would merely be another bottom feeder of the straight to video league and competing with Joe Speakman or Michael Dudikoff for a lead in Excessive Force 7.
"What? An enjoyable Seagal flick made since Under Siege? Fraid' so, Joe."
And with Under Siege, Seagal was almost confirmed as an action genre big shot. With costars like Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey to give a little more credibility to the picture, Seagal showed in that flick that he could successfully star in a big budget and big box office action motion picture. The movie itself was not original, merely another Die Hard rip off with plenty of cliched lines and predictable points, but the chemistry of the actors and the direction make that a pretty good action flick, and certainly enjoyable when you suspend your disbelief.
Ever since Under Siege, however, Seagal has disappointed. He followed up Under Siege by directing himself and the must’ve-been-kicked-in-the-head Michael Caine in some odd bird of a film about drilling for oil in Alaska. I can’t even remember the name of that turkey. From that movie onward however, his flicks have been grossly egocentric and overbearing, where he usually has the role of some sort of “mis-understood” hero who ends up as the sole savior after some pre-climactic engineering and explosive making. I swear, in Fire Down Below I expected him to come flying through barn doors in a freshly soldered tank with a cigar hanging from the corner of his mouth shouting, “I love it when a plan comes together!”
Even with his particularly lame filmography, Seagal has not lost any charisma, and I found that of his past few movies, I did mildly enjoy Glimmer Man, possibly because he had to share the screen with a comedian with the ego of an action star, Keenan Ivory Wayans. Compared to Wayans, Seagal looks better (yea okay although his mid-section is likely at its very chunkiest), and he even gets a little self-referential and makes some fun of his own martial art skills and “Zen” like persona.
Steven Seagal stars in Exit Wounds as a cop along the lines of any other cop in such a flick. The movie begins with a Seagal in a completely over the top sequence involving an attempted assassination of the Vice President. Who ever heard of the VP being assassinated anyway, at least in such an elaborate manner? Oh, and if you’ve seen Clear and Present Danger, then you see from where some of the action in this scene was STOLEN. Now, let’s see if we can follow the progression, and if you aren’t paying attention, that’s okay because you don’t really need to anyway.
After saving the VP and killing practically every bad guy in an introductory sequence that has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie, Seagal is.? Yes, punished by his boss for being reckless.
As punishment, he is…anyone? Yes, sent to a shitty police precinct in the inner city area.
What does he find when he gets to his new job… Bueller? Of course, crooked cops.
And over the course of the show, he also ends up running across and then running after a very slick and quick drug dealer (with a few hidden interesting secrets) named Latrell Walker, played rather competently by rapper DMX.
Are the crooked cops and Walker connected? What?!?! Can it be???
I went into Exit Wounds not expecting much, so maybe that was the key to my enjoyment. The plot is as cookie cut as any other Seagal movies, and although his character, Orin Boyd (an action hero named Orin????? What the hell is that?), is similar to the rest in his repertoire, Seagal’s persona and attitude seems a little more subtle than usual (maybe a couple of years worth of acting lessons?). Seagal takes what appears to be his usual misunderstood and crapped-on hero and makes him less a showcase for his ego and more accessible as a person. He also seems to do a better job of interacting with other actors, and that means not trying to steal the screen by his characteristic sneer or some poorly written one-liner. Although I must admit, Seagal has a few funny one-liners and delivers them fairly well. And, if you aren't nearly on the floor in the hilarious scene (and likely best directed part of the movie) where Seagal is forced to direct traffic as one form of punishment, then there is no hope for you.
As an example of Seagal’s better performance, Tom Arnold has a strange small role as a hyper-kinetic (what else could he be) sleazy morning show host who attends an anger management class that Seagal is forced to attend. For whatever reason, be it Seagal’s willingness to attempt to act or some font of professional talent buried within Arnold, their scenes work well together and are some of the funniest moments of the movie (although it is mostly Seagal not interrupting Arnold) second only to the directing traffic.
The supporting actors do fairly well, although Tom Arnold’s small role is a stand out. DMX impressed me for the most part, and some others with less time on screen, Micheal Jai White, Jill Hennessey, Bruce McGill (who stars in one out of every three cop movies it seems these days) do fine. It’s not DMX’s first movie role, but it is the biggest he’s seen yet, and he does a good job. As TK, Anthony Anderson also does a pretty funny job as DMX’s sidekick/partner, although he is a little too obnoxious for his own good in a few places. He’s like a roly-poly Jamie Foxx, and funny lines just flow out of his mouth; but sometimes it is a little much. But there is a very funny bit he and Arnold do during the credits that is hilarious and sounds almost like it may be greatly adlibbed.
The direction of this movie seems to have the right energy and speed when it is warranted overall, well, maybe in all but the most hectic action scenes. There, it is merely passable. The editing is loose and choppy and occasionally distracting. Now, director Andrzej Bartkowiak has a pretty good flair and sense of style and certainly knows how to photograph the scenes. He hasn’t been the cinematographer for dozens of films over the past 20 years (Thirteen Days, Lethal Weapon 4, US Marhsalls, Speed) for no reason. Even so, his style feels like a weird combination of Tony Scott/Michael Bay alternating between days on valium and others on crystal-meth. And that’s not really a compliment. I mean, Seagal is supposed to be as good or better a martial artist than Chuck Norris or Jean-Claude Van Damme, but do we ever see that in his movies now? No. Even in this modern throwback, we still don’t get that much.
But for the purposes of this movie, the direction is more than capable, and Seagal is fairly fun to watch. Come on, nobody expects Dirty Harry with this movie. Hell, it’s not even Lethal Weapon 3, but it is a fun flick to watch if you have nothing better to do. Bartkowiak‘s first directed movie, Romeo Must Die, was not a particularly impressive piece of work, but Exit Wounds is a little more enjoyable.This is by no means a good movie, except by Seagal’s more recent standards. It is a fun watch – especially if you can catch it at a dollar theater as opposed to full price – for the people who enjoyed the guiltless violence and non-existent plots of the chop-shop ninja-cop flicks of the 80’s.
link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=4936&reviewer=227
originally posted: 04/25/01 06:48:38