There was absolutely no way I was going to get through this marathon without taking a look at one of Steven Seagal’s more recent efforts. Out of all the classic action stars of the 80’s and 90’s, Seagal seems to catch the biggest amount of shit and I can’t say it’s all entirely unwarranted. It’s undeniable that he hasn’t kept himself in the best shape and often puts little to no effort into his many direct to DVD flicks. Narration provided by other actors, heavy use of doubles even outside of the stunts, and large chunks of the movie where he doesn’t even appear, all create the idea that perhaps his heart isn’t too into it and its more about rushing out as much product as possible. He definitely has an audience though. I remember when I worked at a video store around 2006, we would get a new Seagal movie in every few months and it would be a hot rental for the first couple of weeks without fail. While I’ve caught a few of his recent efforts here or there it is largely a blank spot. I had no idea where to begin so the fact that this one also stars Mr. Steve Austin from Day 9’s surprisingly enjoyable Damage made it the best candidate.
Seagal and Austin are two ex-black op operatives who are called into a prison to help oversee the arrival of two female prisoners who are in possession of some valuable information. It doesn’t take too long before a team of dudes takes over the prison and demands these prisoners be released to them. Of course Austin and Seagal aren’t going to stand for that shit and from there many punches are thrown and many bullets are fired.
It becomes clear very quickly that Seagal and Austin likely won’t be sharing a whole lot of screen time together. In their first dialogue scene, the majority of it is shot with the focus on one of them with a clear body double representing the back of the other character’s head. Then when shit goes bad they spend the first while apart, doing their own things. When the finally meet up around the middle of the movie, Austin pitches that they finally team up and I started to get amped up only for Seagal to immediately fire back “Nah let’s stay split up” and then they don’t see each other again until the end of the movie. It’s too bad because you definitely want to see these guys together as often as possible, especially since they are on the same side. It seems like a way to get each actor to only have to commit to filming half of a movie.
Seagal, I mean what can I say, he is definitely not at his prime anymore. You don’t want to say he’s fat and out of shape but….I mean he’s pretty fat and out of shape. He does seem to be putting in the effort here though, at least compared to some of the other films of his I’ve seen in recent years. There’s no weird overdubbing and he seems to rarely use a double. He has a good number of fight scenes but I for the life of me can’t tell how he actually wins these fights. The bad guy seems to run at him, then there’s a flurry of quick cuts and fast editing where you sort of see some hands moving and then the bad guy is down on the ground. The first move he does in his first fight I swear he just touches the guy’s head to knock him down. Even in his early movies Seagal has always been about taking down an opponent as quick as possible but I no longer have any idea how he is doing it and the movie doesn’t seem like it wants me to know.
Seagal does have my favourite moment of the entire movie though. After breaking a guy’s arm so that the bone comes popping out, he asks the screaming guy if it hurts. Of course it fucking does and the guy lets him know as much and Seagal just responds “You fucking pussy.” Pretty harsh judgement of a guy with a bone jutting out of his arm but an amazing line delivery.
The Steve Austin half of the movie fares better and once again solidifies that I enjoy watching this dude work. He emits this perfect “get the fuck out of my face” attitude that helps him raise what is some fairly standard material to a level it otherwise wouldn’t achieve. His fight scenes are clearly the superior ones as the camera is able to stand fucking still and actually show us how he takes people out. He even gets to impale someone on weight lifting equipment which would be awesome enough but he then gets to say “No pain, no gain” and walk away in slow motion. One liners delivered to dead people who can’t hear them are the silliest/best kind of one-liners. So yes the Austin half of Maximum Conviction is the better movie by far, though at least the Seagal stuff isn’t a slog.
I will admit that the movie does get monotonous after a while. Much of the action is similar, with the good guys standing on one side of a room or hallway and firing their guns at the bad guys at the other side of said room or hallway. Obviously they aren’t working with a very large budget here but a little variety still would have benefited this one greatly as I had certainly had my fill of generic gun fights by the time the credits started to roll.
Maybe I was just in the right frame of mind at the time but I enjoyed my time with Maximum Conviction. It’s not a high recommendation by any means but it’s a good Sunday afternoon flick if you just need to be passably entertained for 90 minutes or so. If anything it has continued to motivate me to check out the works of Mr. Steve Austin and thankfully this was part of a 4 movie collection of his so I have plenty of material to make my way through.