Sunday, 31 July 2011

Under Siege (1992)

Also known as . . . . . . . the best movie that Steven Seagal ever managed to star in, Under Siege is a brilliantly entertaining action movie with wit, thrills and some genuinely fantastic performances from Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey. It’s basically Die Hard on a boat. And it has Erika Eleniak jumping out of a cake while topless. Which automatically adds two points.

Seagal plays ship’s cook Casey Ryback, the one man who may prove problematic when the ship that he’s on is taken over by baddies who want to have fun with nuclear weapons and make lots of money. Ryback isn’t JUST a cook though. He is actually a former Navy SEAL. If you can’t stand any heated action then stay the hell out of his kitchen.

Andrew Davis directs Seagal for the second time and shows a much better grasp of action entertainment this time round. His next movie would be The Fugitive, featuring a number of cast members from this film, but Under Siege is a damn fine slice of fun by anyone’s standards. 

J.F. Lawton has the writing duties and mixes in some amusing one-liners with a number of great character moments. Tommy Lee Jones gets most of the best lines but Gary Busey raises a smile on more than one occasion and even Seagal gets some decent quips, as well as some enjoyable exchanges with the gorgeous Erika Eleniak (playing a beauty who has been flown onto the ship as part of a surprise birthday party).

The plot is, unsurprisingly, easy to follow and any twists and turns are easy enough to spot but everything is raised up by the quality of the supporting cast: Jones, Busey, Colm Meaney, Glenn Morshower and many other familiar faces flesh out either the crew in danger or the baddies placing the crew in danger.

It may not be the best Die Hard riff (that would be Speed AKA Die Hard on a bus) but it’s certainly near the top of the pile and a modern classic of entertaining action cinema. 

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