Thursday, 6 May 2010
THE PATRIOT (1998) Steven Seagal
Forget 'straight to video' release, this actually premiered on SKY MOVIES in the UK, before limping to VHS a year or so later. Despite a healthy budget ($25m) and a solid cast, it's UK terrestrial premier, sent tiny alarm bells in my (then) 26 year old head..........what had gone wrong, why no hype, why no cinema release? Undeterred by this, my nephew and myself (and several cans of 'Electric Soup') headed round my brothers house (why?.......because he had SKY TV....posh bastard!) to watch, what i thought would be a non stop action fest.
How wrong i was.
Granted, the cinematography was awesome, but the 'action' was like an Ethiopian Paraplegic (i.e....'Thin On The Ground')
Seagal was fine (if a bit too stationary for my liking, as i was used to seeing him play cops, etc) but as it creaked to the 60 minute mark....everyone watching it, developed that kind of 'apologetic silence' (a sort of "let's STFU and hope it ends soon?" vibe lingered) The 'Stout Sensei' had given us too much change, too soon, too much plot and too much beauty, for us mere (slightly mortalled) mortals to take.
Seagal plays Dr Wesley McClaren, tending to a small town in Montana. He is respected in this small community, and alternates bewtween healing the townsfolk, recieving pies (don't ask!) and spending time with his young daughter, Holly, on their ranch.
Of course, any Seagal movie needs a bad guy, and this is in the form of a 'militia' group, looking to spread a deadly airbourne virus (a'la OUTBREAK, except that neither Dustin Hoffman or Kevin Spacey could flip a drug-dealing rastafarian through a window, by his broken wrist)
Of course, with the townsfolk dropping like flies, it's up to our intrepid doctor and (expendable sidekick) Frank (played by seasoned veteran L.Q. Jones) to save the day. The Militia (dying themselves....nice plan guys!) kidnapp Holly because of her immunity (why not kidnapp McClaren?.......he's bigger, and in true Seagal bravado, probably houses11 pints of blood, unlike mere '10 pint' mortals) So McClaren (who turns out to be Ex-Cia) must come up with a cure (utilizing 'Indian Medicine') and save his daughter from becoming a 'haemoglobic-Teabag' to the crazed militia group.
Seagal (sadly) only flips a few bad guys in this one. But gets extra bonus points for kicking a guy into a snack machine (i guess that's Dr Seagals extreme way of getting patients to cut down on sugar?)
Looking at The Patriot now with older eyes (less hair and a beer-gut) it's a masterpiece. I can take the lack of action (which however small, is galaxies ahead of Seagals later 'stunt-doubled Romanian dub-fests') and appreciate the cinematography, scope and drama of it all (WTF...Seagal and Drama...gasp!)
All in all The Patriot is a slow moving, but involving Seagal movie (with 'Western' elements) free of the preaching that befuddled average action audiences (a'la On Deadly Ground or Fire Down Below)
And at (very) least, it's not that terrible Mel Gibson movie
10:36 (Seagals 'hilarious' gag to his daughter about frank "in the outhouse" after too much Tabasco sauce on his eggs)
44:41 (Seagal finally snaps into action)
69:30 (a montage of Seagal 'acting' anger....throwing some chairs, tables, etc)
76:26 (Stop W(h)ining...ha-ha!)