Friday, June 18, 2010
AGAINST THE DARK
Starring - Steven Seagal, Tanoai Reed, Linda Ashby, Keith David
Seagal's first foray into the realm of the supernatural results in his best movie since Shadow Man...you may interpret that statement however you wish... I'm inclined to believe that Seagal has made the best decision of his production career by opting to play a side character in this vampire vehicle, giving more screen fight time to Tanoai Reed, a slightly younger, slightly quicker, equally wooden, Hawaiin version of himself. Turns out, Reed earlier flexed his "acting" muscle on the never popular American Gladiators as the nonsensical chanting Toa. Working with both Hogan and Seagal are but two of the many perks that come along with being the cousin of The Rock. Useless information?...Or goals to aspire towards?...
The construction of this piece of crap is pretty laughable with the majority of the action taking place in what was most likely an abandoned factory/warehouse, cutting between a group of stereotypical survivors getting into stupidly stereotypical situations, and Seagal's group of vigilante hunters, whose toughness is denoted by leather garb and slow-motion "walking with a purpose". Every so often, the monotony of pitiful peril and shitty swordplay is interrupted by transporting us to the inside of a non-specific military tent where Keith David growls his way through some inane lieutenant dialogue. His voice commands as much authority as his career does sympathy.
Of course, the immediate concerns that jump to one's mind when tantalized with the premise of Seagal fighting vampires is that very notion. Seagal is in typical post-Exit Wounds form, wisely replacing his flying fists with swords and knives, limiting the embarrassment of his diminished talents. He stoically mopes around atop his "Seagalian Physique", constantly adhering to the equation for successful swordplay; that of rapid editing + slo-mo swinging = mad katana skills. (For those not in the know, a Seagalian Physique is defined as the body of a washed up action star, desperately/discreetly trying to go unnoticed behind a long, heavy jacket. Whilst cut and fabrics are optional, leathers and jean materials seem to be the preferred choice.) Reed does most of the actual hands on work; he's a big, thick guy, and can easily toss around scrawny, post-apocalyptic undead. Luckily for our inept survivors, he too utilizes the awesome power of slo-mo, as he literally jumps into sticky situations, (as opposed to sneaking for some unknown reason,) and feigns knowledge of his bladed tonfa-like weapon.
The vampires themselves are of the quick and voracious variety, and don't look too bad...or at least I've seen way worse...In fact, the chick filing down her own teeth is the best looking thing in the entire movie. On the general whole, the gore is the only consistently interesting aspect of the flick, and don't get me wrong, it's certainly no vision of visceral beauty. (Damn inexorable link between B-movies and lowered expectations...) Unbelievably, it can be broken into two different catergories; blood at the given diegetic moment, and blood montage. The blood and guts as a result of the so-called on-screen action is nominally acceptable, spurty and red in all the right places and not too CGI inspired, though there are some visible bloodpack outlines that I found quite unsettling. The blood montages, however, are the real curiosity: serving as transitional sequences (...and inspiring terror?...), they feature some mediocre disemboweling (akin to that featured within the film), and some fantastic evisceration, rich in textures and emotions and...wait a minute...I think I've seen that intestine someplace before...A lot of this great footage bears the striking markings of stock footage, and never before has a film benefited so much from it's inclusion.
Why, oh why, Seagal did you not make this movie in the period between Hard to Kill and Under Siege? It could've been so great...kicking...vampires...limb breaking...ponytails...the environment...Mayhap your career requires some sort of revealing, honest, self-referential, abbreviated, dramatic piece to give it that much needed shot in the arm. Course, if I paid money to see a film with S.S. on the marquee, it damn well better feature Ilsa, or I'm gonna be pissed.