Beyond the Law is one of the many straight to video action movies that only seem to be made to provide streaming services with content. It doesn’t matter if it’s any good, its only function is to bulk up the library of a streaming service. To give the subscriber the idea that his monthly dollars give him access to an enormous library. But Beyond the Law is a bit more notable than the average DTV release since seems to mark the end of Seagal’s movie career.
Sure, that career was basically over by 2002. But since then he has been putting out a steady stream of straight to video releases. Each release chipping away at the legacy that this once A-list action star had. 2019’s Beyond the Law is the last movie on his IMDB filmography with no new titles in production, not even rumored ones like Under Siege 3 and Above The Law 2. As if Warner Bros. are ever going to give Seagal another dime.
And with Seagal, now in his 70s, aligning himself with Vladimir Putin and being the subject of several me-too scandals I don’t think that somebody is going to put him in a movie any time soon.
Back to Beyond the Law which has some other notable aspects as well. Rapper turned actor DMX is in this movie playing a dirty cop. DMX was of course Seagal’s co-star in his last decent movie, Exit Wounds.
The central character of the movie is played by Johnny Messner. Messner is far from a household name, but he’s had some small parts in a couple of larger projects. He really seems to be good friends with Bruce Willis and trash producer Randall Emmet, because he is working steady in all those trashy Bruce Willis movies and similar stuff. Between this movie and 2022 he has been in 9 Randall Emmett movies, 7 of them starring Bruce Willis.
Aside from DMX, Seagal has a shared history with Messner as well. They squared off previously in The Perfect Weapon. Another movie in which Seagal plays the bad guy, providing him with the opportunity to only appear in a few scenes while still collecting a nice paycheck for having his face plastered over the marketing materials. The movie’s title is even een throwback to his first movie Above The Law. They will really try anything to trick an unsuspecting person into thinking this might be an actual Steven Seagal movie like he made 30 years ago.
Sadly the casting is the only notable aspect of Beyond the Law. The movie itself is just another low budget movie about gangsters, ex-cops and revenge. The story is way too convoluted for what it actually is: some ex-cop trying to avenge the death of his kid by a gangster. This is a fairly simple premise, done a 1000 times before. But the story has to be written in such a way it accommodates the big names on the poster.
Seagal is the father of the gangster who killed the ex-cop’s kid. None of his scenes have any influence on the story. He either talks about his business or he scolds his sons about how his plans are going to blow up in his face. Which they then do. If you took Seagal out of this movie, you would still have the same movie. Maybe even better. But he’s biggest name in the movie, but you only have him for a day and you’ve got to make him part of the movie in some way.
This is basically another movie in which Seagal sits 95% of the time. Only during the finale of the movie does he perform one aikido move on somebody. It’s just sad to see what he’s become.
As for the rest of the movie: it was okay actually. Not as bad as it could have been and way better than China Salesman. Messner does a decent job and it’s nice to see DMX once again. While his role is fairly small as well and he’s only given one scene to shine a bit, he still is a charismatic presence on screen. But there is little artistry on display here. Aside from some dutch angles in the first act, the movie is shot fairly straightforward. But you can’t expect much from a movie that’s shot somewhere in Eastern Europe in two weeks time. Movies like Beyond The Law are simply assembly line products.
In the end Beyond the Law only made me yearn for another re-watch of Exit Wounds. A true guilty pleasure.