Film Scouts Reviews

"Under Siege 2: Dark Territory"

by Kathleen Carroll

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Film Scouts publisher Mayra Riesman is a die-hard Steven Seagal fan, although there is no record of her ever having seen the black belt action star in a movie. On second thought that may explain her curious obsession with Seagal which began when he picked up her lunch tab in Cannes.

What I'm trying to say here is that despite the rule of honor which prevents publishers from exerting undue influence on their editors Mayra made it clear that I was to see Seagal muscle his way through "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory" or else.

Just to give you an idea of what I had to face Warner Bros.'s publicity honchos were apparently too embarrassed to allow critics to see an advance screening of the movie. The no-screening policy proved to be a shrewd business decision. The movie opened cold on Friday and by Monday it was the number two box office hit in the nation.

"Under Siege 2" is billed as "A Geoff Murphy Film." Murphy, alas, is pinchhitting for Andrew Davis, a top flight action director who, along with the dynamic acting duo Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey, added welcome zest to "Under Siege."

In the barely warmed-over sequel Seagal is once again Casey Ryback, a restaurant cook and ex-C.I.A. operative who still has a taste for dicing up bad guys. Casey and his niece are traveling cross country by Amtrak when their supertrain is invaded by "dudes with machine guns." They are holding passengers hostage on orders from Travis Dane, an out-of-control techno genius who wants to stir things up in the Pentagon with his earthquake-causing satellite. There's never any doubt that Casey will cook Dane's goose before he nukes the entire free world because Seagal scrambles over the tops of the railroad cars looking as bored and detached as your average Metro-North commuter. It maybe the only action movie in which the actor, playing the villain's henchman, that is Everett McGill, displays more charisma than the macho star.

Seagal, who apparently has boundless faith in his own abilities, also produced, wrote and performed "After the Train Has Gone," the forgettable song that is played over the end credit sequence. After "Under Siege 2" rolled by I dimly remembered one good laugh line. Says Casey, after flambe-ing some of Dane's trigger-happy dudes, "Nobody beats me in my kitchen."

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