UNDER SIEGE (1992)
Directed by Andrew Davis
Written by JF Lawton
Starring Steven Seagal, Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Busey, Miss July 1989
Seagal Kill Count: 28
Best Line: “Do you hate being dead?"
Coming off of four successful action movies, Seagal finally does something different - an action movie. But in this one, he chops off his ponytail, doesn't play a cop, and isn't running around in a city. This time, he's under siege. This was the first rated-R movie I ever saw in theaters, and it's the last of the Seagal movies that I've seen previously to this project.
The USS Missouri is set to be retired after one last trip, stripped of it's weapons and laid to rest. Unfortunately for the Pentagon, a turncoat commander and an ex-military terrorist have other ideas. They have one hope in getting the ship back into the hands of the United States - a cook named Casey Ryback.
Tommy Lee Jones brings it in his portrayal of Bill Strannix, an ex-US operative who was supposed to be eliminated after a failed military project. He looks like he's having a ball here, both as a faux rock star and as a deranged madman.
Not to be outdone, Gary Busey simply chews scenery any time he's on screen as Commander Krill. He makes one of the most memorable entrances of his career when he waltzes into the Captain's birthday party in drag.
The action here isn't bad, but it follows a familiar formula that we've been seeing up to this point. Starts with some hand to hand, devolves into major gunfire, ends with some more hand to hand. We've got some pretty fantastic kills here though. Seagal rips a man's throat out, drops a man on a table and saws through his trap, and in a "Home Alone" moment, drops a sharpened girder through a henchman. The fights seem well done but ultimately cut to hell.
The direction is fine, although in 2017, it's pretty unremarkable.
Steven Seagal has claimed that the character of Jordan Tate, AKA Ms. July 1989, was all him. He thought it would be funny to have a stripper as a sidekick. I believe him. The worst part of this film is Jordan Tate and her arc. She starts off with a bang, falling asleep inside of the prop cake she was set to pop out of, only arising when Seagal kicks it in an empty room. She emerges, topless, burning an image into my 11 year old mind that I'd never forget. It's all downhill from there.
Originally, Seagal stuffs her into a locker, saying she'd be safer there. She screams, kicks, and tantrums her way out. After loosely questioning why she's on the ship, he determines that she's not with the terrorists (she convinces him by saying, "You've gotta believe me."). He then arms her with an MP5, and by the end of the movie, she's breaking one of her two rules, killing (the other is dating rock stars). Her arc is unbelievable and eye-roll inducing. In the final shot of the film, she and Seagal kiss, which I feel might have been added by Seagal considering the two share zero romantic undertones during the movie.
Like most Seagal flicks, there are small nuggets here and there simply to advance the plot that don't make any sense. Like his six friends who are all conveniently welded into a separate room. Or the convenient welding kit that was left right next to the door so that Seagal can let them out. Or that when Seagal and his team take out the ships weapon systems, they're all of a sudden armed with shoulder mounted rocket launchers. Or that Seagal blows a hole in the side of the submarine that Strannix and Krill are hoping to transport nukes on, and they fix it within a matter of minutes.
The editing, yet again. There's a scene in which Seagal kills the same guy twice because the editor thought we'd be dumb enough not to notice.
The villains make this watchable, but I remembered it being a lot better than it ended up being. The whole, "Die Hard on a battleship" comparison doesn't really hold any water, because John McClane used to actually get hurt.
To hear the sequel idea for this flick and other extras, check out our play-by-play podcast episode for Under Siege here.
OTHER INTERESTING NOTES:
We get our third Breaking Bad cameo (the first being Hank in Hard to Kill and the second being Tuco in Out for Justice) when Tuco again pops up, this time aiding Seagal as one of his kitchen staff.
The original name for the script was Dreadnaught.