When Maximum Conviction arrived through my letterbox my heart sank a little bit. People may remember that I endured almost every Steven Seagal movie ever made over the course of many months (if you need verification then just type his name into the search box on the right and have a browse). It almost broke me. Thankfully, I had no more to endure for a while. All of his releases over the past couple of years seemed to be episodes of his show, True Justice, spliced together and sold to undemanding fans. But I knew the day would come when I would have to watch this man in action again. Maximum Conviction was the film that dragged me back into Seagal's world.
As stupid as it was, I still held on to a shred of hope. After all, Steve Austin was also in the movie, and I like Steve Austin. It only took a few minutes to grind that hope into dust. Seagal and Austin play two former black ops kinda guys (does Seagal ever play any other kind of character? No, no he doesn't) who are helping to decommission a prison that now holds two extra "guests" in the shape of Samantha and Charlotte. Unfortunately, some very powerful people want one of these women for some information that they possess so it's not long until the prison is breached and lots of armed men are causing trouble while being repelled by Seagal and company.
Directed by Keoni Waxman (who also directed The Keeper, which was Seagal's last half-decent action film), and written by Paul Beattie, Maximum Conviction has potential that is wasted thanks, once again, to a lazy turn from an out of shape leading man. Seagal just doesn't cut it any more as an action star. In fact, he hasn't been cutting it for the last decade or so, and that makes it increasingly difficult for his movies to continue appealing to ACTION fans. This movie is improved by the presence and physical work of Steve Austin, but there's only so much that can be done when Seagal insists on having the lead role even as he continues to pass most of his scenes over to his stunt double. Elsewhere, Michael Pare turns in another bad guy performance, Ian Robison is a spineless warden and Aliyah O'Brien and Steph Song are the women who could be in big trouble, playing Charlotte and Samantha, respectively. If you're expecting any great acting then you clearly haven't seen any other Steven Seagal movie.
The most frustrating thing about watching Maximum Conviction is how close it comes to being a good film. The premise isn't that bad, the pacing is fine and some of the action set-pieces have the right level of energy and damage to be good entertainment. Unfortunately, the combination of low-budget (the movie certainly LOOKS cheap), laziness and over-editing just ends up making the movie a bit of a chore.
I would say, hesitantly, that some hardcore Seagal fans may well see this as a bit of a return to form. Everyone else will probably see it as yet another one to avoid.