Under Siege Review

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When a battleship heading for the scrap yard is hi-jacked by terrorists after its store of nuclear weapons. But they didn’t count on the ship’s chef Casey Ryback, a former SEAL, who is not about to take things lying down.


No one was pretending this was anything but a Die Hard rip-off styled to the, ahem, talents of Steve Segal. Then, in the early ‘90s Segal had his place in the thinking of Hollywood, his stream of thick-headed action movies, mainly involving him kicking people and sneering (he has no other expression) with a voice that could be used to sandpaper logs, all made a decent amount of money. To challenge him would be to ruin him. Here is an actor totally unable to change gears, versatility an alien concept to the frozen features of his supercilious mug, vaguely reminiscent of a man permanently wearing a stocking mask. Perhaps, it is this supreme sense of nothing going on, that makes him seem so hard to beat. Here is not a man in up to his receding hairline like Bruce Willis’ John McClane, but a man just waiting to kill some more people soon. Dangerously, you might want to consider that it is this reason why Under Siege is such fun.

That Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey are camping things up to high heaven as the villains certainly enables the film to have some characters, the play a pair of soured-American terrorists, bitching like old women, who seem to be named after plankton — Strannix and Krill. Erika Eleniak is purely on-hand as eye-candy, a fact announced by her topless entrance (one of cinema’s most freeze-framed moments). And also, director Davis should take a lot of credit for mounting some gutsy action; blowing things up without letting it feel chaotic. He understands the rhythm of good brainless gung-ho, to build to the punch, and the chosen battleground, the USS Alabama dressed up as the USS Missouri, offers plenty of range for all the ensuing grappling.

We still all have to own up to the fact, it is not simply the fact this is such a professional piece of one-dimensional crap that gives it the kicks. There remains that something in Seagal’s blank indomitability that veils the film in an efficient cool. You don’t need to root for him — he’s already won. It’s an action film with all of the worry removed. No effort at all.

This no-brainer is fine if all you're after a bit of escapism, but don't look for anything deeper than that. Someone somewhere thought it worthy enough to have a sequel.