Today You Die (November 10/05)
Steven Seagal has appeared in almost ten direct-to-video action flicks since 2000, and not a single one of them is any good. In terms of quality, they generally range from mediocre (Ticker) to flat-out awful (The Foreigner). Today You Die, thankfully, falls under the former category, although there's no denying that these movies are getting awfully routine and predictable.
This time around, Seagal stars as Harlan Banks - a career criminal who would like nothing more than to abandon his thieving ways and settle down with his patient girlfriend (Mari Morrow). He accepts a job driving an armored truck, but is genuinely surprised when his shady boss (played by Kevin Tighe) double-crosses him. After a short stint in jail, Harlan breaks out with the help of a well-connected gangster named Ice Cool (Treach) and sets out to get his revenge on those responsible for his imprisonment.
Today You Die features many expected elements of the genre - ie a gunfight in an abandoned warehouse, a car chase with exploding vehicles flying through the air, etc - but it's awfully hard to enjoy any of them thanks to the film's exceedingly low-rent production values. This is despite director Don E. Fauntleroy's best efforts, as the filmmaker eschews quick cuts and flashy camera tricks in favor of a more old-school sort of vibe (a welcome change from the flamboyance that generally accompanies films of this sort).
Presumably as a result of Seagal's heavy workload, the actor stopped appearing in his own fight scenes long ago - something that's evidenced by the heavy emphasis on Seagal's back during such moments (with the occasional close-up thrown in for good measure). And if that's the case, one can't help but wonder why Seagal's presence is even necessary. If we're not going to see the big guy himself deliver some of his signature moves (most of which involve arm-snapping), the movie may as well star someone like Martin Short or Paul Reubens (come to think of it, that might not be a bad thing).