Exit Wounds (2001) / Action-Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for strong violence, language, sexuality and nudity
Running Time: 101 min.
Cast: Steven Seagal, DMX, Isaiah Washington, Tom Arnold, David Vadim, Anthony Anderson, Michael Jai White, Bill Duke, Bruce McGill, Eva Mendes
Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Screenplay: Ed Horowitz, Richard D'Ovidio
Seagal's first starring vehicle in three years leaves me with mixed feelings. Not surprisingly, Exit Wounds continues Stevie's string of bad and predictable films. What is surprising is how this particular film at least maintains watchability despite it.
Seagal (Into the Sun, Submerged) stars as Orin Boyd, a Detroit cop with a rep for being a bit of a loose cannon. During an attempted assassination of the vice president, Boyd saves the veep's life while neglecting to follow proper police procedure in the process. Boyd is subsequently transferred to the worst precinct in Detroit, and discovers himself stuck in the middle of drug dealing thugs and corrupt fellow cops.
The problems with Seagal's latest is pretty much the same as all of his films: the script is predictable and plot makes little sense. Exit Wounds does inject a huge helping of welcome comic relief, most of which isn't particularly funny, but at least is easier to bear than the usual Seagal style of showing constant ugliness perpetrated by the film's baddies for 90 minutes just so we can root for Stevie to kick some ass in the end.
Ridiculously conceived, one can only laugh at how the film is set-up, with gratuitous car chases chock full of spontaneous explosions, muscle-bound pretty boys, and rooms in deserted buildings which seem to be used for little more than storage for dangerous objects for Seagal to use in hand-to-hand combat. There are some attempts to spice up the fight scenes, but much of this is so over-the-top that they would have even been out of place in The Matrix.
It should be obvious that I'm not a Steven Seagal fan in the slightest, but for those who are, Exit Wounds will rank as one of his better outings. Bartkowiak's (Romeo Must Die, Cradle 2 the Grave) direction does give the film a nice look and atmosphere. Some decent supporting players, well-presented action, and a solid hip hop soundtrack also make the film easier to sit through than it could have been with a director who just doesn't give a damn.
Seagal fans by definition are probably not hard to please, and Exit Wounds delivers all the goods they have come to expect, and a little more. If you like his other films, this one will not disappoint. For those of you like me, who watch Seagal films to make fun of them, this also will not disappoint. Exit Wounds is bad, but it's tolerably bad, and in the Seagal ouvre, that's as close to a rave from me as you're likely to find.
©2005 Vince Leo