So this is what the mighty Steven Seagal has come to at the age of 61. Let's be honest, we never expected a Taxi Driver or a Dog Day Afternoon from Seagal, but even after all these years it's surely not too much to hope for another Out For Justice: a stripped-down, silly exploitation movie that's still kind of fun to watch. He certainly isn't fun to watch in this noisy, badly made thriller in which most of his dialogue is incomprehensible and he looks like he could barely force a draw with Davros in unarmed combat - half his fight scenes look to have been shot without him and he's just turned up for a few closeup inserts. He also wears rose-tinted sunglasses indoors, which can't be a good idea when looking for bad guys in dimly lit corridors.
Essentially Maximum Conviction (a silly title for a film staring two actors who can barely give any conviction at all) is Die Hard In A Military Prison. Seagal and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin (emphatically not the Six Million Dollar Man) are the ex-Marines assigned to close down a military jail housing half a dozen miscellaneous scumbags and two hot chicks dubbed Persons Of Interest by the CIA. A crack squad of badass villains led by Michael Pare are after the secret files embedded in a microchip in Hot Chick #1's chest (don't ask), but they haven't reckoned with The Two Steves...
Cue an hour or so of shooting, kicking, fighting and stabbing, much of which is pretty indifferently staged though slightly more violent than usual - enough to get it an 18 certificate. Much has been written over the years of Seagal looking permanently constipated but this time around he gives the impression of just having soiled himself and (understandably) not wanting to let on. It's silly - Big Steve Austin spends half the time investigating a problem with a garbage truck (it's got the badass squad hiding inside it, a plot development given away by putting the logo of Troy Disposal Services on the side of the truck) - and the whole plot hinges on one of the inside men accidentally dropping a coded message on the floor and not noticing.
It's not that Maximum Conviction isn't as good as Seagal's early movies (which were hardly overlooked by the Academy in the first place); it's that it's barely on a level with many of his more recent, cheaper DTV timewasters. Neither of the leads come across as anything but lumbering brutes: there's no wit, no charm, no humour to them or to the film as a whole. In the end it's just fairly boring, fairly mediocre, and not worth the effort; even diehard Seagal fans might find it punishing. To be honest, in The Man's ever more undistinguished filmography, Half Past Dead remains an immeasurably better Die Hard In A Prison movie.