Combustible Celluloid
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With: Steven Seagal, Eric Bogosian, Everett McGill, Katherine Heigl, Morris Chestnut, Peter Greene, Patrick Kilpatrick, Scott Sowers, Afifi Alaouie, Andy Romano, Brenda Bakke, Sandra Taylor, Jonathan Banks, David Gianopoulos, Royce D. Applegate, Kurtwood Smith
Written by: Richard Hatem, Matt Reeves
Directed by: Geoff Murphy
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence and language
Running Time: 99
Date: 07/14/1995

Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Die Hard on a Train

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I was very surprised to discover, after I had seen this movie, that it cost over 60 million bucks. Surprised because it seems to have such a great B-movie sensibility to it, not unlike the cheap and charming early Steven Seagal flicks such as Above the Law and Marked for Death. There are some large-scale special effects, although I wouldn't call them stunning. Director Geoff Murphy often seems to cut away before we can see anything. Besides that, Under Siege 2 is a well-paced, dumb, fun movie. Seagal reprises his character Casey Rybeck, who takes a train with his sexy 16-year-old niece to his brother's funeral. Eric Bogosian plays a deranged scientist with a powerful weapon that blows up things. He needs to have it on a train so it can't be tracked. Guess whose train he's on.

I like this Die Hard formula very much. It's like the beloved fish-out-of-water routine usually saved for comedies, with some adrenaline thrown in. Casey must make the best out of what he can find on the train, but without being seen by the bad guys. The filmmakers make the most out of this situation: normally on a train, you can only go 2 directions, but here, the characters crawl around in the air ducts, on top of the train and under the train.

Bogosian is a great monologist, but he's a fairly weak villain. He's over-the-top, but without a sense of fun. We don't have an idea of what makes him tick like we did with Gary Busey and Tommy Lee Jones in Under Siege. He's not really scary or wicked, he's just annoying. Fortunately for us, however, the producers wanted to bring Busey's character back from the dead, but Seagal protested. And you thought the guy was dumb.

I happen to have a tolerance for Seagal, but if you haven't developed some of your own, this isn't the movie to start with. If you have, I'm recommending Under Siege 2.

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