Force of Execution, 2013.
Directed by Keoni Waxman.
Starring Steven Seagal, Ving Rhames, Danny Trejo and Bren Foster.
Alexander Coates’ (Seagal) criminal empire has been good to him – and devastating to his enemies – until his number one hit man, Roman Hurst, messes up what should have been a routine hit. Alexander spares his protege’s life but cripples his hands, thus ‘retiring’ Hurst forever. Before long, though, Alexander realizes that he’ll need Hurst’s help one last time when Iceman, a ruthless killer, surfaces.
Steven Seagal returns with another cinematic (or straight to video) opus. In the last decade a new Seagal film would appear with great frequency. Sometimes, three or four a year would pop up in (wipes away a tear) Blockbusters. Seagal moved into TV a few years back with his reality show Lawman, as well as his fictional cop show, True Justice.
In the U.K, True Justice tends to pop up on video in feature length, presented (somewhat falsely) as a brand new Seagal movie. The truth is the way they are presented offers little continuity or sense as two episodes get glued together and sold as a movie, often not working as a stand-alone film. In others the film will be left open ended, but the expected resolution in the following True Justice movie, doesn’t materialise as another couple of unconnected episodes then get pasted together and released. So despite so many DVD covers showing up in the ASDA charts with Seagal’s face on, the two films he’s done in the last couple of years are just Maximum Conviction, and now Force of Execution.
Force of Execution sees Seagal team up with director Keoni Waxman for the umpteenth time. They’ve done a number of movies together, whilst Waxman has also directed many of the True Justice episodes. In some regards this might be good, he’s serviceable enough. In other regards though, it leaves a more Seagalistically (should be a real word) clued audience member knowing just what to expect in terms of style, action and look. Seagal has worked with far worse directors it must be said, but he’s also worked with better. So does Force of Execution offer anything new and exciting for Seagal fans? Well, not really.
Once again, as seems to be common in his recent outings, Seagsy takes something of a backseat in proceedings. The actual lead of this picture is Bren Foster, playing the right hand man of Seagal’s underworld crime boss. After a hit gone wrong, Foster is consigned to the scrapheap by his mentor, but his life is spared because Seagal likes him. When a rival gangster (Ving Rhames) tries to muscle in on Big Papa’s territory, Seagal has to go to war, and once again calls on Foster to help him out. The plot is simple enough, though it plods along a bit too slowly, and sometimes with little cohesion.
Since this is a Seag film, the primary focus of course is on the blowing up and face bashing side of things. There’s plenty of action here. In terms of Seagal himself he has a few fights. The problem is, like most of his recent films and TV fights, is that they’re poorly filmed and uninterestingly choreographed. Waxman films everything too tightly, and it’s also edited to frenetically to see what is going on clearly. This isn’t a stylistic choice as much as it’s a matter of filming around the constraints of filming a Seagal film. For one, he’s only on set for master shots normally, so they need to hide the fact that there’s a double doing half the work. However when it’s time for Foster to open up a can of whoopass, Waxman proves that he’s more astute at filming a fight sequence than some Seagal fans might give him credit for. Foster showcases some impressive moves and his participation for more than just masters, and his athletic ability, means that the camera can pull back and show these fight sequences in all their glory. They’re not ground-breaking, but his fast hands and feet offer some effective fisticuffs here. The rest of the action, largely gunfights, is pretty perfunctory.
Seagal here has a more interesting character than usual. He’s not particularly a good guy here. Moralistically he’s obtuse, making it a shift from the majority of Seagal’s holier than thou characters. He also seems less bored here and a little more animated. He wouldn’t have been troubling Di Caprio et al at the Oscars by any means, but it’s at least good to see Seagal putting in some effort.
Bren Foster is okay. Physically he does everything required of him with aplomb. However as a launching piece to become a new action star, I’m not sure this will be good enough. He’s not a bad actor, he’s just lacking in movie star charisma, which for all of Seagal’s faults, he has in spades. I think the best way I could describe Foster is that if he was in a movie like Kickboxer or Bloodsport he’d be the guy Jean-Claude Van Damme would fight in the semi-final. He’s drawn comparisons with Scott Adkins, but Adkins is a stronger actor and has a bit more charisma. We shall see, but it’s very tough these days to break into the action genre and maintain anything like a career guys in the 80’s and 90’s did. As for Ving Rhames, he enjoys himself as the villain, whilst Danny Trejo also appears and is typically reliable.
Force of Execution is a marked improvement on Seagal’s last film (Maximum Conviction) but still leaves a lot to be desired. A prequel is currently in the works, and hopefully Seagal can push himself a bit more, but right now his films all feel a little bit too similar in almost every department. With rumours already circulating about his involvement in The Expendables 4, we may yet see Seagal producing something closer to his glory years for a last hurrah, but time will tell.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★