Steven Seagal arrives on the scene in classic hero cop style. Vintage black car, black cowboy boots, black pants, black shirt; the camera pans up toward his face. And then, there he is, looking all squinty and confused and annoyed at the same time and you remember why we, as a society, relegated him to the straight to video shelf long ago.
Exit Wounds would have probably gone directly to your local vendor as well except some clever marketing exec. came up with the idea to pair up Seagal with oh-so-in rapper DMX. Hip Hop is back in style, and with the success of Romeo is Bleeding, martial arts movies starring hot new rappers are all the rage. Too bad this movie couldn't have just stuck with DMX instead of digging up the very white, very 80's Seagal. He was never hip, and what used to be a cool kind of menace has now turned into a dazed kind of myopia. Instead of striking fear into the hearts of criminals, he always looks like a man who can't believe that he can't read the street signs from a block away.
The story is pretty much irrelevant. It rambles around and takes forever to get going, but this is the gist: Dirty cops selling drugs, guns, shoot-outs, car chases. Sound familiar? It should, it's the plot of all the Lethal Weapon movies and half of the other action flicks released in the mid-eighties. Steven Seagal is a good cop who gets busted down to the worst precinct in Detroit. There he finds police corruption, big time drug dealers, etc, etc. This kind of plot is just tired. That's why people quit going to his movies. Maybe they're hoping that we've forgotten. The DMX character's story is the only part of the movie with any originality, but it's not incredibly interesting, either. I won't spoil the surprise, but don't get your hopes up. By the time the movie gets to it, you'll be so bored that you won't even care.
DMX does a passable job, although I'm not really sure there was any actual acting going on. Most of the movie he just scowls and looked concerned. It's the same way he looks in his videos. Maybe that's just how he looks. Seagal, on the other hand, is a bad actor. We all knew it, but we liked his movies because he kicked butt. Remember all the stories about how he could really do all that, and how he was in the CIA, and how he used to be a monk, and blah, blah, blah. Nobody cares anymore. And why? Because Jackie Chan and Jet Li came along and made Seagal look, well, boring. If you want to make in on the big kung fu scene today, you've got to be able to fly, not just break somebody's leg, or flip them over your shoulder. They try to throw a few new moves in, but it just looks desperate. Tom Arnold is tossed in for a little comic relief, but it just makes things worse. He's another holdover that no one is clamoring for a comeback from. Isaiah Washington and Michael Jai White round out the cast as black cops on the opposite sides of the law. Washington, at least, doesn't embarrass himself with his role. I can't say the same for White, who engages in a climactic paper-cutter fight with Seagal.
Eva Mendes, DMX and Steven Seagal in Warner Brothers' Exit Wounds - 2001
There were several scenes that should have been entertaining, but weren't. One, in particular, has great potential by placing Steven Seagal in an anger management class. Unfortunately it falls totally flat. I don't know if the writers had ever seen a Steven Seagal movie, but part of his whole schtik is that he doesn't get mad (he gets even). He gets stuck in his desk, breaks the top off, announces to the group that he's happy as a lark, and then goes outside and beats up a bunch of car thieves, all to the delight of his emotionally deficient classmates. Ha ha ha. It all felt pointless.
Pointless is a good way to describe this movie. It definitely wasn't good, but it wasn't quite bad enough to laugh at either. There's nothing to catch hold of to keep your interest, and it feels like a movie you've seen 100 times before. The only really enjoyable part of the movie is the title. Exit Wounds? What's that even supposed to mean? It has nothing to do with the story, aside from all the shooting that goes on. It's like the writers just wanted to come up with something that sounded cool, and Fast Cars, Dirty Cops, and Squinty Seagal wouldn't fit on a marquee. After an hour and forty-five minutes, I had quit caring about the wounds and was looking for the exit. Grade: C-
Exit Wounds is rated R for language, violence, and nudity.
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