Driven to Kill
Directed by Jeff King
Starring Steven Seagal
Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment
Release Date: May 19, 2009
If people in Hollywood were wise (and with rumors of a Guitar Hero movie on the horizon, there is no reason to believe they are), Steven Seagal‘s long, precipitous fall from grace would be utilized as a horror story for young actors: a hefty, pony-tailed boogeyman toiling under the beds of these hair-gelled sissies they call movie stars nowadays.
“See that, young Shia? That’s what happens when you act like a dick and defy men such as I!”
“Jesus! I’ll do whatever you say, Mister Katzenberg! I’ll do whatever you say! JUST DON’T PUT ME IN A MOVIE WITH DMX AND TOM ARNOLD! I’M TOO PRETTY TO DIE!”
Fifteen years after his prime, Seagal is still breaking wrists, throwing people out of windows, and running like a goddamned girl without any hint of irony or self-effacement. Only now it’s in Straight-To-DVD Land, where the least amount of collateral damage occurs.
In truth, I looked at the apparently thriving Seagal DVD market like I looked at the fur trade: I know it’s going on, and I know I vaguely don’t approve, but it doesn’t really have any bearing on my life. So let bygones be bygones for whomever is into that kinda thing.
But damned if I didn’t review the book Seagalogy last year. It was written by Vern, the best writer over at AICN. He seemed to genuinely enjoy Seagal’s work, so I figured I’d take a look at Driven to Kill, see what I was missing out on. Y’know, part of my campaign to become a more understanding and tolerant person.
Yeah… I neither tolerate nor understand this movie.
The plot (HA!) involves Seagal as a Russian gangster turned bestselling novelist known only as Ruslan. He goes back to New York for his daughter’s wedding when other gangsters invade the house and start capping and killing everyone in sight. From there, Ruslan seems compelled, somewhat, to kill… “Driven,” one might say.
Okay folks, here’s where I stop the review and tell all the folks who were gonna check this movie out to go ahead and do so. This is your thing and you have my blessing. (You can even try to win one in GoD’s contest.) I don’t understand your tastes, but they’re yours and you go ahead and have fun with them. The world is chock full of things I don’t understand, like people genuinely excited for the next Transformers movie, and that Godawful Twitter horseshit. That doesn’t mean I want to wipe everyone off the face of the earth who participates in such things… Well maybe Twitter, but that’s just me.
Anyone left who saw that someone, somewhere is wasting precious keystrokes on a review to a Steven Seagal movie and clicked on this in hopes for a derisive laugh at the expense at his expense? I suppose I can oblige. I’m going to list the chain of events that occurs in the first three minutes of the movie, and let’s see if any of these things would ever occur in this (or any other) manifestation of reality…
– The first scene is of Big Steve with his girlfriend. This woman is both hot, and at LEAST three decades younger than Seagal. She makes thinly veiled allusions to the fact that she will grant any amount of sexual favors to him, provided that he will perform a butch magic trick involving a styrofoam cup and a metal spike.
– When Big Steve seems reticent, the girlfriend then implies that she has an equally hot friend who will join in their bedroom reindeer games. Film reviewer sees this, and contemplates the bottle of Drano under the sink ever so briefly.
– A man as big as Big Steve is seen walking home with a grocery bag filled only with a newspaper and a pineapple. You KNOW that motherfucker ain’t coming home from shopping for food with anything less than a whole, live cow.
– Big Steve is hard at work on his next bestseller, furiously typing… Well that’s a stretch. More like “lightly grazing the F buttons at the top of the keyboard.” I didn’t know you could write books like that.
But quibbles. Anyone who watches a Seagal movie doesn’t watch to see him have sex or write books (ESPECIALLY the first one). They come for the ass-whuppin’, or they don’t come at all.
Well, for most of the discerning action connoisseurs in the audience, the action in Driven to Kill isn’t gonna get the job done. It’s competent, don’t get me wrong, but there’s no real oomph to it. Take for example, one scene near the end that takes place during a shootout in a hospital. Big Steve ducks behind a door and the bad guys fire at him and the only indication that anything is going on at all is that band-aids are flying everywhere… No actual holes are being made in the door, no sparks or anything, the bad guys seem to be AIMING for the band-aids… Weird…
We all know our Steve isn’t the best actor in the world, even when he’s playing versions of himself, and not since Costner has a man so completely butchered an accent as Seagal does here. His Russian Gangster veers in and out, that much is no surprise, but it morphs into Spanish on SEVERAL occasions. Why can’t they just cast Seagal as taciturn, jowly ass-kickers named “Steven?” That type of crap worked for Tony Danza.
But while I may rag on Seagal for what he is, I will never rag on him for what he has been. I remember Above the Law and he was hard as a motherfucker back in the day. What with Mickey Rourke and even Jean-Claude van Damme having regained relevance as of late, maybe there will be one for Big Steve…
Sorry, couldn’t type that with a straight face. Nevermind.
** out of ****