October 28, 1992 -- ``Under Siege,'' the current runaway box office smash hit, has a lot going for it. Good action sequences, a fast-paced plot, a terrific villain and most of all, humor.
Steven Seagal has long been popular with the grunt and kick karate set, churning out one mindless action film after another, but this film is much better than that. It could do for Seagal what ``Die Hard'' did for Bruce Willis. Seagal, who usually displays a range of emotions from A to A, this time gets to ham it up a little bit. He does an impression or two and gets to deliver some funny lines. He's still not much of an actor, but he has latched onto a terrific vehicle in ``Under Siege.''
If you want to see real acting, however, see this film, but don't watch the stone-faced Seagal, look at veteran actor Tommy Lee Jones. Jones has a wonderful role in the film as an ex-CIA operative who is not firing with a full clip. He plays the crazy-as-a-fox role to the hilt and does a masterful job with it.
Gary Busey also stars as a deranged ship's officer who turns traitor in order to cash in on Jones' mad scheme. Busey seems to be having fun in the role, probably his best performance since ``Lethal Weapon.'' Erika Eleniak, who plays a former Playboy playmate, does a good job as the girl who tags along for no reason at all. A gratuitous scene with the bare-breasted Eleniak jumping out of a birthday cake appears to have been thrown so the film can achieve the desired ``R'' rating (a ``G'' rating, for instance, is often the kiss of death for a film's box office potential).
The ``R'' rating is certainly not for violence. There are a lot of people killed in the film, but it is comic book-type violence with little blood and little graphic detail. The film's humor also leavens the violence.
The film is expertly directed by Andrew Davis and the screenplay, by J.F. Lawton, includes many clever one-liners and comic situations for Seagal and others. The plot also maintains a fast pace and suspense. The movie was filmed on the USS Alabama and the location shots are fantastic. There's even a cameo of President George Bush and Wyoming's own Dick Cheney at the beginning of the film, but you have to look close to see Cheney, seated at Bush's right. This film rates an A.
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