This is meant to be the stuff I would say if we sat down together in a diner afterwards and just spewed forth with how we felt. Sure, maybe if I watched these films in the future a second time I would change my opinion slightly or completely in some cases, some movies can depend heavily on how you first see them, and in that case if I have more ideas on a film, maybe I'll throw them up on the blog.
I am finding myself, since I started this, occasionally thinking during the movie, what am I going to write about this? This is, if I am honest, usually when the movie isn't up to much and on occasion when the movie is so good I can't wait to praise it.
During 'Above the Law' I wasn't thinking about what I was going to write at all. I started watching it at midnight last night (27th), fueled by a friday night's rum and bison burger, and finished the last 15 minutes this morning (28th). I am still not sure what I am going to write so this truly is a 'from my brain to the screen' review.
My initial reaction is to say I genuinely liked it. It was as polished, looked as good and was directed as well as any other 80s action film from Commando to Cobra (by the guy who would go on to direct one of my favourite Harrison Ford movies, The Fugitive). Despite it actually being Seagal's first movie, it is a vast improvement on his second film, Hard to Kill (see the review below). It actually made me want to watch more Seagal movies in the hope that at least one other would be good like this. It also had a plot that while I never knew 100% exactly how it all tied together, something to do with war, drugs, immigration, politics and the assassination of a priest and a senator, it, at least, had a suitably evil, flat faced villain who surrounded himself with equally ridiculous rent-a-goons and even, in the final moments attempted some sort of message or point.
The action, too, was fantastic. It wasn't as infrequent or as slow moving as some of the other so-called action movies I have seen lately and there were also some genuinely impressive stunts. The bar fight, the machete fight, the scene in which Seagal destroys some suitably mono-browed thugs and a grocery store in the process, much to the dismay of the comical Indian store-clerk and even the end show down with the cheap-suited, odd faced, head villain with the maniacally evil sounding name were all directed well, choreographed well and were fun and exciting to watch.
It left me scratching my head thinking what the hell went wrong between this and the highly amusing but overall sloppy Hard to Kill? Budget? Director? what?
It's good to see the likes of Pam Grier and character actor Chelcie Ross in the cast as well as the usual round of 'how-do-I-know-that-guy?' amongst the various be-suited CIA, FBI and PD officials, but the weak link in the acting stakes is still Seagal. Although, in this movie his acting and range of emotions, just like the fighting, is a damn sight more animated and active than in Hard to Kill. Did this one really come first? I just don't get it! How do you get worse with practice rather than better?
His overall look, body and stance remain a problem too. He doesn't yet have the ridiculous and horrendous wardrobe of future films, although it's still pretty bad, but he does have this tall, lumpy, lumbering and slightly flabby looking body, with arms that actually swing sometimes, limp and lifeless, from his extended mis-shapen torso and he can't run properly for all the Adidas in the United States. Whenever he is filmed at full height from his shoes to his greased back, pony-tail-in-the-making hair atop that Cro-Magnon forehead it actually caused involuntary laughter from me, which I suppose, at least, made the film even more enjoyable.
7 out of 10 Scrabbled eggs