September 1st, 2010

PISTOL WHIPPED (2008) ***

Steven Seagal plays an ex-cop who was wrongly kicked off the force.  He’s also racked up a sizable gambling debt and owes money all over town.  A mysterious millionaire (Lance Henriksen) buys up all of Seagal’s debt and forces him to become an assassin for hire in order to pay off his gambling marks.  After he puts a few people in body bags, Henriksen gives Steve-O his latest target; his daughter’s stepfather.  This is going to make the next family get together AWKWARD.

 

Pistol Whipped marks a step up in terms of quality for a Seagal Direct to DVD action flick.  The story is coherent, the production values are impressive, and the action sequences are solidly executed (there’s a good stunt where an SUV flips over, a couple of competent wrist-snapping fight sequences, and the graveyard shootout finale is good too).  And you know, it’s always kinda iffy whenever Seagal is trying to save a little girl.  Sometimes it can suck, like with Shadow Man; but sometimes it can be fun too, like in Out of Reach.  Fortunately, Pistol Whipped falls into the latter category.

 

I highly enjoyed Henriksen’s sinister turn as Seagal’s benefactor.  His character is kinda reminiscent of John P. Ryan’s role from Death Wish 4 and it gives old Lance ample opportunity to flex his acting chops.  Seagal does some fine work in the thespian department too.  Usually he plays nothing but super suave heroes but he equips himself nicely playing a down on his luck type of character.  He also gets a thoroughly badass moment at the end of the film where he shoots a guy and asks him if he wants to be buried or cremated.  When the guy says buried, Seagal throws him into a hearse, shoots the gas tank, and after the car blows up he yells, “You’re cremated now motherfucker!”  So you can see; while no means a classic, Pistol Whipped does contain enough classic moments to qualify it as one of the best latter era Seagal vehicles.

 

AKA:  The Marker.  AKA:  Deathly Weapon.

BREAKAWAY (2002) ** ½

Breakaway is Die Hard in a Shopping Mall.  Both films feature a cop in the wrong place at the wrong time dealing with terrorists/thieves at Christmastime.  Instead of Bruce Willis though, we’re stuck with Dean Cain.  We do have Eric Roberts essaying the Alan Rickman role and Erika Eleniak is a lot hotter than Bonnie Bedelia, so it’s not all bad news.

 

This is the type of movie they made hundreds of in the 90’s.  Of course this was made in 2002, so that should tell you a lot.  I don’t care though because it’s still a decent mindless way to kill 90 minutes (along with some brain cells).  Because I’m such a sucker for a good Die Hard rip-off (heck, even the crappy ones are sorta fun), I wasn’t bothered too much by the flick’s various shortcomings.

 

Breakaway is a cheesy action flick that is confident enough in it’s cheesiness to embellish it’s ridiculous premise to the nth degree.  It knows it’s a Die Hard rip-off but wears that as a badge of honor and not a scarlet letter.  I also liked the fact that the villain is connected to the hero (both of their kids perform in the same Christmas choir don’t ya know).  I’m not so sure they needed to make Roberts’ character sympathetic by giving him a sick kid and all, but it gives him something to work with.  I only wish they had a better lead than Cain.  He just can’t deliver his lines with the kind of sardonic sarcasm the role requires. 

 

The flick stumbles around the third act, particularly when the action leaves the shopping mall.  I think it was an extremely bad idea for Roberts to make his getaway on a dune buggy (?!?) but heck, it’s just so HUH that it still kinda works.  (Besides Roberts actually got to make his getaway, something Alan Rickman never did.)  I mean when’s the last time you saw a movie end with Dean Cain and Eric Roberts playing chicken on dune buggies?

 

As yuletide themed action flicks go; Breakaway is no Reindeer Games or anything, but it’s certainly goofy fun for indiscriminate action fans.

AKA:  Christmas Rush.