Under Siege 2: Dark Territory
February 20, 2006
Starring: Steven Seagal, Eric Bogosian, Everett McGill, Katherine Heigl, Morris Chestnut, Peter Greene, Patrick Kilpatrick, Scott Sowers, Afifi Alaouie, Andy Romano, Brenda Bakke, Sandra Taylor, Jonathan Banks, David Gianopoulos, Royce D. Applegate,
As a self-confessed Steven Seagal fan, I yearn for the days when Stevie was making theatrical releases along the lines of Under Siege (1992), The Glimmer Man (1996) and, to a lesser extent, Exit Wounds (2001). His later offerings are hard, even for me, to keep up with as he appears to be making a movie every second week, and they’re all going straight to the special offers section of Amazon.
Once Seagal was making cinematic masterpieces (of sorts) such as Out for Justice (1991) and Hard to Kill (1990), whereas now the churn ‘em out wagon that is Steven Seagal is banging out films that even contain rehashed titles, such as the recent Out for a Kill (2003). In fact, you can probably take any two older Segal movies and merge the titles to produce a new one, the producers seem to.
With this in mind I’m turning my attention back to the height of Seagal’s fame (back when he was thin and fast) and the classic Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995). The first Under Siege was a massive box office success, surprisingly so perhaps, causing the inevitable sequel that brought special forces expert turned chef Casey Ryback back to the big screen, this time on board a train. In Under Siege 2, Segal swaps his chef’s whites for the more slimming black (which he more accustomed to) in order to fight terrorists on board a train, while safeguarding his niece (Katherine Heigl).
Fans of Seagal (and they do exist) rightly consider Under Siege 2 as one of his greatest films. It’s a more polished production than its predecessor, and it maintains an element of comedy no present in earlier Seagal movies. It also represents one of the last films where Seagal was genuinely quick, and didn’t rely on camera work to make himself look effective.
The plot of Under Siege 2 focusses on technology expert Travis Dane (Bogasian) who, after faking his own death, hacks into and steals control over a top secret weapons satellite for his own nefarious schemes. Dane designed the satellite in the first place, so he knows how to use it, and now he wants to demonstrate its effectiveness to the world before selling it to the highest bidder. In order to keep himself hidden from the authorities, Dane hijacks a cross country train with a band of mercenaries. The only problem is, yes, you’ve guessed it, Casey Ryback is aboard the train on vacation with his niece.
The usual Die Hard inspired action ensues, where Casey Ryback takes out the terrorists one at a time in increasingly violent methods, admirably aided by Morris Chestnut as the bell-boy with a gun.
Under Siege 2 is filled with cracking laugh out loud moments (not all of them laughing ‘with’ the film either) such as when the hijackers find his digital diary and discover that it contains his memoirs. Simply the name Ryback is enough to send fear through the ranks, as obviously Casey Ryback is known among mercenary circles, having trained one of the mercs himself.
Other classic moments include the nonchalant way in which Seagal runs through the train, away from the blue screen image of another train crashing through it. The expression on his face is one of boredom, mixed with outrage that he’s being forced to run for a film – perhaps the last time Seagal actually ran on camera.
As action movies go, Under Siege 2 certainly stands up to the test of time and, together with The Glimmer Man, represent the best work of Steven Seagal. If, after watching Under Siege 2, you’re not converted into a fan of ‘The Portly One’ (as his own fans call him) then don’t bother going any deeper, you’ll only be disappointed.