Under Siege 2: Dark Territory

on July 14, 1995 by Eric Williams
   "Blow Hard," an intentional spoof of "Die Hard" and its imitators, is somewhere in the Hollywood pipeline. Until it arrives, we'll have to content ourselves with "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory." As always, a stoic hero singlehandedly defeats heavily armed evildoers; a jive-talkin' African-American sidekick (Mor- ris Chestnut) gripes about being stuck in such a dangerous situation but comes through when it counts; and a token female (here, Katherine Heigl as the hero's nubile niece) provides incentive for the hero and introduces some cheesecake into a testosterone-heavy cast.
   Steven Seagal, as counter-terrorist/ cook Casey Ryback, battles a paramili-tary squad that has stormed and taken over a train to use as a command center from which high-tech mastermind Travis Dane (a slumming Eric Bogosian, whose detachment suggests he's soaking up the silliness as fodder for his next one-man show) plans to blow up the Pentagon via an attack by a deadly satellite. But the specific details differentiating "Under Siege 2" from its predecessors barely matter. The film exists solely to rack up a body count; little time is wasted making Ryback's actions clever or even coherent. Instead of the usual fun of the hero outwitting his opponents, Seagal dispatches his foes with a few brutal moves, as though they were the endless supply of animated thugs that a violent videogame would provide.
   To call Seagal's acting wooden is an insult (after all, even willows weep), but his cautious, lumbering gait never conveys urgency or agility, making it doubly absurd to have him outrunning a train collision at the climax. To juice the action and camouflage Seagal's rigidity, director Geoff Murphy ("Freejack") resorts to speeding up or slowing down footage, just like in TV's old "Six Million Dollar Man" series, but this merely makes the action sequences, already choppily edited, even harder to follow. "Under Siege 2" has many onscreen deaths, but it might have also bid a yippie-ki-yay to this tired genre itself.    Starring Steven Seagal, Eric Bogosian and Katherine Heigl. Directed by Geoff Murphy. Written by Richard Hatem and Matt Reeves. Produced by Steven Seagal, Steve Perry and Arnon Milchan. A Warner Bros. release. Action. Rated R for strong violence and language. Running time: 99 min.
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