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On Deadly Ground Review

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Micheal Jennings is a wealthy and ruthless oil chief, who wants to get hold of an oil field in place before the rights are given to the Inuit. When he tries to pin a crime on an employee Forrest Taft, Taft decides to side with the Inuit and attack Jenning's unethical and polluting plans.

★★★★★

Fiendish industrialist Michael Jennings (Caine) is trying to get an Alaskan oil well on line before drilling rights revert to the Eskimos, and doesn't care how many people die or how much of the ecosystem gets polluted to do it. Jennings' troubleshooter is Forrest Taft (Seagal), a mystery man in buckskins who specialises in putting out oil fires.

When Taft gets mighty suspicious of his employer, Jennings tries to have him killed, whereupon he demonstrates his action hero invulnerability, crawling from an explosion to be nursed back to health by Eskimette Joan Chen and makes his position on despoiling the environment clear by assaulting Jennings' rig.

After Under Siege, Seagal reverts to the three-word title and distinctive ponytail of earlier movies for his directorial debut. As usual, his character is above the law, hard to kill, out for justice and marked for death, but here he's also on deadly ground, turning his CIA training to good use by communing with wildlife, cosying up to Native Americans and killing scum.

Caine chews the scenery, but leaves the active villainy to others. The standard action plot keeps stopping so the star can deliver simple-minded but well-intentioned ecological messages, including a strange, lengthy Green Party political broadcast.

The fuzzy thinking allows for gorgeous outdoor photography and a few too many dead spots, but Seagal the director shows real muscle by staging one of the screen's best-ever exploding helicopters and allowing Seagal the star to spit out tough talk, as when he refuses to shoot Caine because, "I don't want to dirty my bullets."

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