Exit Wounds (March 28/01)
Judging from the trailers, one would assume that Exit Wounds stars DMX - with only occasional appearances from Steven Seagal. The folks involved in the film's marketing have done an effective job of convincing potential viewers that Seagal has a small part, when in fact he's essentially the star (which is a good thing, certainly).
Seagal stars as a disgruntled cop whose excessive force has sent him from his relatively cushy precinct to a downtown hellhole. This is after he's attempted to curb his hostility by attending an anger management class and proceeds to rip apart a desk he was trapped in (the dude's not small). Once at the new precinct, Seagal quickly discovers that something isn't right with the other cops. See, it turns out a lot of them are dirty and it's up to Seagal to kick some bad-cop ass. Also along for the ride is DMX, playing an unlikely ally in Seagal's fight.
Exit Wounds doesn't offer up any great shakes in terms of plot or character development, but really, are you surprised? All you really want to know is whether or not Seagal busts heads on a fairly regular basis. And he does. Sure, it's not quite as excessive as some of his late '80s, early '90s pummelfests, but it's pretty good. I particularly enjoyed one prolonged sequence that has Seagal up against a gigantic, almost sumo-like opponent. Guess who wins?
The movie has been directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak, and it's got a fair amount of style and flair going for it. My only complaint would be the filmmaker's relentless use of slow-motion. Ever since The Matrix made it cool to show fight scenes slowed down, most action flicks have attempted to emulate that film's success by employing this technique. And most of the time, it's completely unnecessary (as it is here). When filming a Seagal fight scene, all the director really needs to do is place a camera somewhere and roll. Extreme close-ups, fast editing and super slo-mo shots aren't need and are in fact distracting.
I don't know who thought it would be a good idea for DMX to be an actor, but he essentially sucks. He's got exactly one look and it's a scowl. By the time the end rolls around, he attempts something that looks like a grin, but it's short-lived and he looks very uncomfortable doing it. And for those of you Seagal-bashers reading, check out Exit Wounds. It takes a really terrible actor like DMX to make you appreciate the subtlety and depth Seagal infuses into his character by comparison.
While Exit Wounds isn't really a return to Seagal's roots (there are too many explosions and not enough random acts of senseless violence), it is a refreshingly action-packed film that's distractingly enjoyable.