Driven to Kill
Steven Seagal is back, and this time the Weighty Warrior is playing a
former member of the Russian mob, complete with a Russian accent that ranges
from "OK" in some scenes to "not so hot" in others, and all the way to "not
even trying" in some scenes where he just speaks in his usual whispery
Steven Seagal voice with no accent at all. He also speaks several sentences in
Russian, with the same mixed results. He learned this creative inconsistency
in one of the intensive acting classes he took at the prestigious Kevin
Costner as Robin Hood School of Fake Movie Accents.
It seems that the Stout Sensei has been out of the Russian mob for decades,
and is now a peaceful beach rat who makes a living as a novelist.
Unfortunately, he has to return to his home turf for his daughter's wedding,
and his reappearance in the old 'hood triggers all sorts of alarm bells among
his former associates. The action escalates to mayhem when the daughter's
pre-nuptial preparations are interrupted by a violent assault that leaves the
bride and her mother dead. Seagal, while hiding some hole cards of his own,
vows vengeance by systematically erasing the entire Russian mob from the face
of the earth, even if doing so will require him to exterminate every last
Russian, or even every last human being, on the planet. Because sometimes you
DO have to throw out the baby with the bathwater. If you're a REAL man.
The basic premise of the film is a fine fit for the Seagal formula, the
cinematography is actually quite good, and the storyline looks pretty good on
paper, but the execution of the film is ham-fisted. The fundamental problem is
that the action scenes are clumsy. Seagal has started to gain weight again
after keeping his bulk under control for a few years, and he now looks bigger
than ever. So he's a 58-year-old fat man, and that's really not the ideal job
description for a martial arts hero. His hand-to-hand scenes are mostly shot
in close-up from the chest up, and are typically shot into Seagal's face
rather than from the side, as if looking over the shoulder of the baddies. As
a result, the audience can usually see only Seagal's chest, head, and hands,
as well as the opponents' hands. This technique disguises Seagal's age and
bulk. If you are willing to accept the use of that obvious crutch, Seagal
doesn't look bad in the scenes. It may be a trick caused by creative editing
and speed-ups, but the Plump Paladin still seems to have fast and dextrous
hands. Of course he must get a lot of chances to keep his hands nimble,
judging from the number of Snickers Bars he must have to unwrap every day to
get that big.
Even with all the camera tricks, the number of hand combat scenes is
relatively small. Most of the fighting consists of scenes of where the Bulky
Brawler blasts baddies with various firearms, presumably because gunfights
represent the only kind of battle scenes in which an ancient fat man in a long
overcoat can still create the illusion of being as bad-ass as the character is
supposed to be.
Of course, if the fight scenes were good, we would forgive some flaws
elsewhere, but lacking the strong combat scenes, we are left taking a chance
that we can appreciate a Steven Seagal film for the intricately developed
plot, the masterful performances, and the subtle characterizations. I'll leave
it to you to guess whether that's a good bet.
There is usually some nudity in Seagal's movies, and this is no exception.
There is a lengthy strip club scene which features
a few anonymous strippers and one
particular girl giving our chubby combatant a private dance. Holly
Eglinton is listed in the credits for this film and I didn't see her anywhere
else, so this may be her. It is certainly the kind of role she normally plays,
and it looks like her body, but to me it just didn't look like her face. I
will leave it up to Spaz to use his ultra-Canadian powers to render that
decision. Whoever the dancer is, she is almost certain to be a Canadian,
because the entire film was lensed in British Columbia.
For comparison, here is Eglinton in Numb:
The Band from Hell
A heavy metal band is also a werewolf pack. (LICKanthropes?) They are
billed as Neowolf, so you'd think people would catch on to their wolven ways,
particularly since reports of werewolf attacks follow their tour bus, and
their contract rider specifically requires their dressing room to be stocked
with freshly slaughtered meat and Milk-Bone biscuits. Nobody gives any of that
much thought, assuming that the reports are just the usual exaggerated
publicity hype to maintain the obligatory faux evil heavy metal mystique, ala
Black Sabbath. Finally, the lupine lads arrive in Ourtown, California, just at
the time when they need a new lead singer, and it seems that our hero is their
top candidate. Meanwhile, his girlfriend is on to the band's little full moon
antics, and enlists the aid of an eccentric local woman to battle the musical
wolf pack and pull her beloved from their paws.
The 2.8 at IMDb pretty much sums it up. Low rent entertainment in every
way. Weak in every possible aspect of filmmaking. Bad effects and make-up. Bad
acting. Inauthentic heavy metal music. Bad script. Bad everything. If the
eccentric old crone had been played by an anonymous old biddy, the entire film
would have been a write-off for me, but I was entertained by the scene in
which screen veteran Veronica Cartwright, now 60 years old, wanders around the
desert with a shotgun filled with silver shells, blasting away at every
werewolf she sees. And I only liked that because it was Veronica Cartright,
who I first saw on TV in Leave it to Beaver in the 50s, and who is one of the
very few mainstream actresses to do a graphic spread shot in a Hollywood movie
(see the Encyclopedia), which she did in 1974's Inserts, a lotta years back.
At the time, the film's star Richard Dreyfuss was 27, Bob Hoskins was 32, Ms.
Veronica's nude scene days are probably over, of course, and she kept her
clothes on here, but there is some nudity from the younger girls, although it
appears to me that two of these three scenes were done by body doubles.
The only one we can be sure of is
Johanningmeier's scene was deliberately shot and edited to avoid a
head/body match-up, even though Michael Frascino was seen very naked in the
That may be Megan Pepin
or not. It's her character, but in this scene she is partially transformed
into a werewolvette, so it could be anyone under that mask.