Sony // 2008 // 96 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge David Johnson // March 7th, 2008
They came to collect a debt. He paid in full.
The latest from Steven Seagal finds the Relentless Scowler working to pay off his debts the only way he knows how -- murdering members of the Mafia!
Seagal plays a guy named Matt, former cop -- an elite one of course (when has Seagal played a character that wasn't elite?) -- and deadbeat dad, struggling with a debilitating gambling problem and a mountainous debt. He's bailed out by a mysterious geezer (Lance Henriksen) who offers to wipe his debt clean in exchange for a few "favors."
Lucky for Matt, all he had to do is hunt down and kill the city's biggest scumbag gangsters and that's just fine with him. But a shifty alliance with his new bosses and the domestic turmoil he's facing with his estranged wife and ambivalent daughter muddy the scenario and Matt, the complex, nuanced antihero that he is, must navigate the complications of his life using only his sparking personality and ability to bend people's arms the wrong way.
It seems like every time I turn around -- KA-POW! -- there's another straight-to-video Steven Seagal feature film landing on the masses. Now I was thinking of using the word "unsuspecting" to modify "masses," but if you're even moderately familiar with the Steven Seagal action movie formula then consider yourself prepared for the sound and the fury of Pistol Whipped. I'm not sure what the term "Pistol Whipped" has to do with the movie itself, but at this point the movies are generic enough that the nondescript titles fit perfectly.
Look, the short of it is that this entry into the Segal canon is dull and for an action movie to be boring, especially in this day of a host of action movies, direct-to-DVD and otherwise, vying for your time and dollars, that's fatal.
And it's not that there aren't any action scenes, because there are, but they're all fight sequences and they all feature Seagal running through that familiar routine he's employed since the early days of Hard to Kill and Above the Law. The difference being, of course, Seagal's physical shape. Back then, he was an imposing figure, lithe, athletic and fast; these days he's my dad. Of course Seagal never was a first-class thespian at any point in his movie career and his vacant, deadpan acting style remains unchanged, no matter what character he plays, which, to be honest, are all separated merely by matters of degrees. He furrows his brow, smiles rarely and spits out his one-liners in his mysterious accent just below the boom mike sensitivity minimum.
So let's say you deeply love the type of hand-to-hand combat Segal offers you. You can't get enough of him slapping grown men in the dead or flicking guns out of the hands of bad guys who stand way too close and drone on and on or breaking fingers or kick dudes in the balls or pushing people (who in the history of action cinema has mastered the "power push" as efficiently as this guy?!). And that grizzled, frowny-faced line delivery, man that just rings your bell. Granting all that, how is the film itself?
Answer: slow-moving, emotionally contrived and utterly predictable. As is the game-plan there's a big bad guy that Seagal must square off against, and it's supposed to be a major twist when he's revealed but you'll know who it is if you have even the slightest working knowledge of action movies.
Standard-issue DVD presentation: a solid 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer and three active 5.1 Dolby Digital tracks (English, Portuguese, Thai). Two disposable deleted scenes and pile of trailers comprise the entirety of the extras.
An extensive, squib-filled firefight finale in a cemetery makes up a little for the dearth of action preceding it. But just a little.
Pistol Whipped is a modern-day Seagal movie through and through: predictable, repetitive, sporadically violent, and chock full o' scowls.
Whip it good.
Review content copyright © 2008 David Johnson; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Portuguese)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (Thai)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (French)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Spanish)
Running Time: 96 Minutes
Release Year: 2008
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Deleted Scenes