Steven Seagal made a mark in Under Siege, but since then, there hasn't been a movie of his that has even come close. Even Under Siege 2: Dark Territory looks like an Oscar winner compared to his other movies. Just recently, I saw On Deadly Ground, also starring Seagal, and thought that was his worst, until I saw Fire Down Below. Almost identical in plot, I realized just how pathetic Seagal movies were and how he does the exact same thing in every one with slight plot and setting variations.
In On Deadly Ground, he plays a badass oil worker who ends up going against the company and its greedy owner to save the economy. In Fire Down Below, he plays a badass federal agent who goes to a small town to combat a greedy guy dumping toxic waste in the rivers to save the economy. The economy thing does not work for Steven Seagal. The navy chef thing does.
I've never expected much from Steven Seagal as an actor but in Fire Down Below, he isn't that bad. Of course, maybe he's just highlighted against the backdrop of a series of artificial and trite characters, including the pointless love interest in the story, Sarah (Marg Helgenberger). Overall, the acting isn't incredibly bad, but it isn't that great, either.
Plot wise, it sucks. Seagal just gets tossed around from movie to movie without any change in character or purpose, only in setting. He does the exact same thing in every movie: Walk around and beat up guys without getting a scratch. That's all and good a couple times through, but after a while, it gets old. Especially the fighting. These are the days where fast action, such as in Jackie Chan movies, are good. Jackie Chan movies don't have much plot and they don't have good acting, but they're fun to watch. In Fire Down Below, Seagal hardly lifts a finger to take down the bad guys, and the filming actually moves into molasses mode to show his punches in slow motion. Bad move.
There are plenty of stories out there that Steven Seagal could excel in, but instead, he seems to end up in the same one over and over again, and each time, they get worse and worse. How about an anniversary edition of Under Siege? I'm up for it.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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