UNDER SIEGE (1992)
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Flick finds Navy SEAL Casey Ryback (Steven Seagal) serving as a cook on the battleship USS Missouri for disciplinary reasons. It’s the captain’s birthday and a big celebration is planned. Rogue Navy officer Commander Peter Krill (Gary Busey) uses the celebration as a cover to bring in terrorist William Strannix (Tommy Lee Jones), an ex-CIA operative, to take over the ship with his men. Now it’s up to cook Casey and a stripper hired for the party (Erika Eleniak) to outwit Strannix and his thugs and take back the Missouri and save the crew.
Arguably Steven Seagal’s best film, Under Siege is directed by Andrew Davis (Code of Silence, The Fugitive) from a fun script by J. F. Lawton. Davis takes the now classic Die Hard scenario and milks it for all it’s worth in his battleship setting. There is a lot of action, some taunt suspense and some nice humor mixed in with Seagal’s trademark martial arts. He gets one of the liveliest performances out of the usually stoic action star and some very strong but entertaining villains in Busey and Jones. The film used a real battleship as it’s setting, the USS Alabama, and the cat and mouse chase between Strannix and Ryback works really well in the claustrophobic setting. Just so it doesn’t wear out it’s welcome, the filmmakers find a few reasons to get the action outside and on deck now and again. There is a generous amount of violence and bloodletting, as Seagal’s style of hand to hand combat and weapons handling gives him plenty of opportunities to stab, shoot and break numerous bones, when not blowing up bad guys with booby traps. It’s a lot of fun and very fast paced, though does take enough time to establish it’s characters which are colorful.
As for those characters the film has a top notch cast. This might be one of Seagal’s best performances, as the action star gives Casey a bit more of a sense of humor and heart than his usual straight-faced tough guys. He has some nice charm and can act a bit. One of the reasons he gets to do this is being paired with Erika Eleniak’s terrified and out of place Jordan. The Baywatch star, at first, is just scared out of her wits, but the character grows from a frightened young woman to a fighter and solid part of the resistance, when she and Casey go on the offensive. The script gives the two some nice scenes together and the actors have a good chemistry between them. Busey and Jones make very good bad guys. Both go just over-the-top enough to be fun, but not enough to make a joke out of the proceedings, or lose their threat factor. They are both dangerous men. Rounding out is a great Colm Meaney as one of the lead henchmen, Nick Mancuso as a sleazy CIA operative, real-life Marine war vet Dale Dye as a navy officer, Andy Romano as Admiral Bates, along with Bernie Casey, Dennis (Retribution) Lipscomb and even Kane “Jason Voorhees” Hodder. A great cast, both main and supporting.
A classic action flick and depending on what you look for in one of his films, Steven Seagal’s best flick and performance. There is plenty of action, strong suspense and tension and some great characters, who interact wonderfully. You get the traditional elements from both a Steven Seagal movie and a Die Hard-esque thriller, yet Under Siege has it’s own heartbeat. Solid directing from veteran Andrew Davis and a tight, fun script from J.F. Lawton and you have pretty much all you could want from an action flick.
Rated 3 and 1/2 (out of 4) cooks who moonlight as SEALs.