Friday, 12 November 2010



Yet another DTV action thriller starring Steven Seagal and no-one you've ever heard of, and another sad, stark reminder that the man's glory days are a long, long way away now. Back in the 80s and early 90s, he could get national theatrical releases - not just a couple of Screen 4s in the West End and "Key Cities" but out to all the provincial multiplexes. But he hasn't had a film released theatrically since 2002. These days, the budgets are minimal, they mostly appear to be shot in Eastern Europe and - key difference - they're not any good. Even as quickie bash-em-ups they're not any good. And neither is Steven Seagal: he's 59 years old and there's only so much they can do to disguise the fact that the leading man is within spitting distance of a bus pass and a bag of Werther's Originals. And Seagal himself wears nothing but black clothes, which goes some way to hiding the increase in bulk after several years on an apparent diet of pies.

Yet he's still going, churning them out at the rate of three or four a year. None of his recent movies that I've caught have been more than passingly tolerable at best, some have just been silly and none of them have been a fraction as trashily entertaining as pictures like Out For Justice or Marked For Death. This one, The Keeper, follows the template with unerring, unwavering fidelity: he's an ex-cop, retired after shooting his corrupt partner, asked to protect an old friend's daughter from boo-hiss evil people; there are punchups (framed and edited to disguise his waning martial arts skills), there are the usual car chases and gunfights.

None of which is done with more than acceptable levels of technical ability. It's functional, it does the job, but there's no art to it and it isn't any fun. Even when the ever more improbable star is beating extras up and stomping through the film dishing out crunchy justice, it's no fun. Maybe his turn in the upcoming Robert Rodriguez action Machete will be more enjoyable. The Keeper, meanwhile, is perhaps better than some of his other recent works (A Dangerous Man, Flight Of Fury, Against The Dark, Driven To Kill) but that's really not saying very much. Not recommended.


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