The Glimmer Man

on October 04, 1996 by Dale Winogura
   A lean and mean exploitation thriller, "The Glimmer Man" might not be original or memorable, but the goods are delivered with reasonable flair and efficiency. Although Kevin Brodbin's script is littered with the usual unlikely contrivances and lapses in credibility, the tight story structure and intriguing character facets keep the movie rapidly moving ahead. The gory, sometimes sadistic violence has a wrenching impact more convincing than today's typical genre hokum, but it's often gratuitious nevertheless.
   Steven Seagal provides a lighter, more humorous contrast to his killer-hero persona, but he still means serious business as an L.A. cop investigating ugly serial killings linked to the Russian mafia. His peaceful Thai Buddhist side plays off against his volatile nature with a smart, conflicting tension that gives the role a bit more dimension than usual. As his reluctant partner, Keenen Ivory Wayans is more down-to-earth, less smartass than before, giving Seagal an effective balance to his more forceful machismo. As their chief nemesis, Bob Gunton brings a sly, cunning, commerce-like villainy to a financier suspected of the crimes.
   The speed-driven pace and dark-textured atmosphere of John Gray's direction convey a sinister sense of organized-crime menace akin to such classic "B" movies as Joseph H. Lewis' "The Big Combo" (1955) and Sam Fuller's "Underworld USA" (1961). In fact, Gray's usage of clips from the famous Warner melodramas "Now, Voyager" and "Casablanca" pay apt homage to the studio's hard-edged style that he emulates quite capably.
   The relentless, harrowing intensity of Gray's action montages do full justice to the punchy realism of Seagal's martial-arts fight scenes. Unfortunately, Gray fudges some key plot elements, such as when Seagal is implicated in his ex-wife's murder, by rushing through them in a perfunctory manner. But he does creditable work overall on a competent, diverting commercial potboiler. Starring Steven Seagal, Keenen Ivory Wayans, Bob Gunton and Brian Cox. Directed by John Gray. Written by Kevin Brodbin. Produced by Steven Seagal and Julius R. Nasso. A Warner release. Action. Rated R. Running time: 91 min.
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