“All of your ridiculous pitiful antics aren’t gonna change a thing. You and me, we’re puppets in the same sick game. We serve the same master, and he’s a lunatic and he’s ungrateful. But there’s nothing we can do about it. You and me, we’re the same. – Casey Ryback, Under Siege (1992).
With that quote above you can probably tell what type of movie this is going to be. Yes, Steven Seagal is in this film but more importantly, he’s the reason it is so damn terrible. I had this recommended to me, everyone I have spoken to loved this film. Even the reviews of the film are fantastic. So what exactly is my problem with Under Siege? Do I honestly have to explain myself, Steven Seagal is the main star.
Casey Ryback (Steven Seagal), the cook on the USS Missouri is an ex-Navy SEAL. When the ship is taken over by William Strannix (Tommy Lee Jones) and Commander Krill (Gary Busey), it’s up to him to take back the ship. The trio of villains are after the nuclear warheads that are on board of the ship. The supporting cast includes Colm Meaney, Erika Eleniak and also George H. W. Bush. Don’t ask, it’s archive footage, I really hope it is. Just don’t question it.
Let’s be fair, I was expecting this to be bad. However seeing that Tommy Lee Jones, Colm Meaney and Gary Busey did give me a small bit of hope. But that small hope was diminished rather quickly when I realised Steven Seagal was here. See that trio I mentioned previously does actually sound very good. The chemistry between Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey just wasn’t there for me. Aside from those two, Colm Meaney did briefly shine on his own. Nothing actually came of his role, but I suppose it’s good to see him in films these days.
I’m a rather firm believer in the philosophy that Steven Seagal cannot act. He will never be able to act either, there’s just something about his performances that are genuinely tiresome. Honestly if you tried to convince me that this wasn’t a B-Movie then I’d be unable to believe you. There’s a scene where Seagal literally judo chops someone in the neck and they die, instantly. Something about his film performances genuinely do puzzle me, and it’s something I don’t think anyone can ever explain.
Although I wasn’t expecting much, I do think it’s important that we talk about the dialogue. It’s complete garbage. There are no memorable, funny or interesting lines throughout. Every line in the film is delivered with the grace of someone hitting you round the head with a truncheon. Even from the moderately good actors like Colm Meaney and Tommy Lee Jones, it’s just genuinely poor. To be fair it can be put down to a bad script in their case, but not in the case of Seagal. He’s really just such a bad actor it’s unbelievable to think he was the big action hero of the nineties.
The plot of this film is quite honestly the greatest thing in the film. By that stretch then it is still pretty damn terrible. It’s odd that this films plot pretty much hinges on the birthday of the first in command. Literally the only way the villains can get on board the ship is by disguising themselves as rockers. Also, Gary Busey dresses up as a woman. This is ten minutes into the film, and that was already my fill. Why he dresses up as a woman, it’s… I don’t even know anymore. This film has honestly drained me of any and all cognitive thought. Gary Busey dresses up as a woman and begins to dance, for reasons that are never explained or in fact necessary to the story. Is it funny though? A tiny, tiny bit of it is funny. But not enough.
Of course considering this film released in the 1990s, it just has to have a genuinely terrible soundtrack. To be fair a lot of action films did have some pretty bad soundtracks. This one just happens to take the cake in that regard though. Speaking of cake, one character introduction has them pop out of a cake. A giant birthday cake where I presume they have remained since the beginning of the film. How they didn’t hear the gunfire is beyond me. Why they were naked inside of that cake is really an issue I just don’t want to bring up.
The choreography of the action scenes throughout is obviously terrible. Now there’s no doubt in my mind that Seagal can do action scenes. If he couldn’t do them then he wouldn’t have been such a star, right? Well, yeah, he’s alright in these scenes. But the camerawork and direction, it’s just so bad. Like a drunk toddler has latched itself onto the camera and began swirling it around in circles. It makes the action unbearably difficult to watch.
So, Under Siege is really just one of those films to watch while you’re piss drunk. Another Foodfight (2012) tier film to add to the ever growing pile of trash. Honestly, it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen. After what I’ve watched more recently, I yearn for the days of seeing Steven Seagal have a knife fight with Tommy Lee Jones for no specific reason. Unfortunately those days are now behind me, and it’s a real shame too.
To think Tommy Lee Jones, under a year later, won an Academy Award is genuinely terrifying. Watching this film is like a lucid experience. You’re not really watching it but at the same time you’re fixated to it in some intriguingly odd way. That by no means makes this a good film. It’s one of the worst action films I’ve seen since Die Another Day (2002). A trashy and predictable spectacle that relies heavily on Steven Seagal. Unless you’re very, very drunk or very, very alone, then avoid this film. From Seagal repeatedly yelling “Get my pies out of the oven!” to Gary Busey putting his heart and soul into every line of dialogue, don’t watch this film.