|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
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Seagal meets expectations
Starring: Steven Seagal, Jill Hennessy, DMX
Directed By:Andrzej Bartkowiak
By Joel Locklin
Steven Seagal is a terrible actor. Lucky for us, he doesn't do much acting in his latest mindless action flick, Exit Wounds. While he may not be the most gifted thespian, he does excel at kicking ass, which he does extensively throughout the film.
Seagal plays detective Orin Boyd, a renegade cop with a knack for killing bad guys and blowing stuff up. For less-than-clear reasons, he gets sent to a dangerous downtown precinct, where he promptly uncovers a ring of corrupt cops who are apparently involved in dealing drugs with crime lord Latrell Walker (DMX). Boyd and Walker are forced to become allies, and decide to work together to bring down the corrupt cops once and for all.
Rapper DMX manages not to embarrass himself too much, although this is due mostly to the fact that his lines are kept to short phrases comprised mainly of one and two syllable words. This is unfortunate, because the lack of plot development and dialogue prevent the viewer from really seeing how deep his character is. This complexity is only revealed to the viewer in a tacked-on postscript at the end of the film.
The rest of the characters are two-dimensional and forgettable. The only performances worthy of praise come from those actors who provide a comedic element of the film. Tom Arnold turns in a juvenile, but humorous performance as Henry a morning talk show host on a local television station and self-proclaimed rage-a-holic. As overweight nightclub owner T.C., Anthony Anderson manages to steal most of his scenes and occasionally makes you forget just how bad the other actors are.
As for the plot, when it's not incomprehensible, it's unrealistic and laughable. Things often happen without any justification and the viewer is left feeling like certain events and plot twists exist solely to accommodate an explosion. The only thing holding the film together is the fact that the audience has already figured out what the conclusion will be after the first 10 minutes.
Considering what he has to work with, director Andrzej Bartkowiak does an admirable job. He wisely keeps the dialogue to a minimum, while providing a number of well-edited, fast-paced action scenes. Most of Seagal's fights (and there are a lot of them) are well choreographed and kept short enough to showcase only the most impressive and violent martial arts moves. And while the cinematography often resorts to Matrix-esque camera angles and special effects, what it lacks in originality, it makes up for by being visually captivating.
Exit Wounds' most enduring aspect is its soundtrack. It features a host of hip hop artists such as Nas and Memphis Bleek, and includes many hard-driving tracks like DMX's hit "No Sunshine." The combination of Seagal and hip-hop is as hard to stomach as a bean burrito after a night of drinking, but most rap fans will be able to overlook this insult to the genre and enjoy the music anyway.
Bad acting and a convoluted plot make Exit Wounds the kind of movie that is at best, tolerable. However, if you're the type who enjoys movies with shiny cars, senseless violence and loud music, you'll most likely enjoy this one too.