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User-generated content: it’s what powers the internet basically. Without user-generated content social media platforms like Facebook would not exist and even a site like IMDB would have a lot less info on every movie. Nowadays certain info is usually provided by a movie studio. Stuff like the cast, director, the studio, running time et cetera. That also goes for the synopsis. Well, most of the time apparently when it concerns the movie Cartels (a.k.a. Killing Salazar). Either a user wrote the synopsis or the studio had an intern write something on a Friday afternoon because this is what it says:

A drug lord is captured and held “secretly” by 6 US agents at a hotel in Constanta, Romania. He agreed to testify against others in the drug business. They send lots of armed men to the hotel. Lots of shooting follows.

I hope this synopsis comes straight from the studio, because it makes sense looking at the quality of the movie. Cartels is another Steven Seagal movie in which he plays a supporting character yet is placed front and center on the marketing materials. If the marketing was honest this would have been a Luke Goss movie. But I don’t think there are so much Bros fans left to market the movie to. And women in their late 40s aren’t the target audience anyway.

Aside from a few parts under heavy make up in Guillermo Del Toro make-up, Goss has been working hard in DTV action movies. Much like Scott Adkins has been doing for the past 20 years as well. Goss is playing on the US agents tasked with guarding the drug lord Salazar.

Cartels uses the interrogation of Goss by Seagal as a framing device for a story told in flashback. The movie constantly cuts back and forth between what went on in hotel and the interrogation. Seagal has now clearly embraced his new favorite way of acting: sitting in a chair for the majority of the running time.

Those being tricked into this movie thinking they’re going to watch a Seagal movie are right to be mad. Aside from a fight between Seagal and Georges St-Pierre in the finale of the movie, Seagal mostly spends his time on screen talking to Goss and saying that he doesn’t believe him. It would be sad if it wasn’t for the fact that he probably got paid a generous amount of money for merely sitting in a chair and reading lines from a cue card.

It’s up to Goss to carry the movie and he does pretty well. While this isn’t a good movie, he actually comes across as a capable action hero. The again, we live in an age where any actor can come across as a capable action hero. Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Liam Neeson. Hell, even Bob Odenkirk can headline an action movie nowadays.

The most notable thing about Cartels to me is that it’s directed by Keoni Waxman. Waxman has made 9 movies and a TV-show with Seagal. Seagal is notorious for being hard to work with due to his eccentricities, but he and Waxman seem to be getting along just fine looking at their output together. Then again, since most of these movies require Seagal to be on set for just one or two days any workman-like director should be able to suck up the bullshit coming from the person they’re selling the movie on.

Waxman has grown in terms of movie making. His early movies tend to be full of “Avid farts”. These are effects created in the editing room, which have become much easier to implement with everything going digital. Waxman was a kid in a toy store back in the 00s. He now displays a lot more restraint and delivers a product that at least is decent in the technical department.

I’m also glad that this movie doesn’t have a Seagal sex scene with a woman who is in her early 20s. As unintentionally hilarious it is to have an action hero sit in a chair for 90 minutes in this 100 minutes movie, I’m so happy that they didn’t force in some scene in which they pair him up with a young aspiring actress taking anything trying to break into the movie industry.

Cartels is a bottom of the barrel The Raid meets Die Hard movie with few redemptive features. I liked it a bit more than The Perfect Weapon which I watched the day before. The most ironic thing about these Seagal movies is how he hurts the very thing they’re trying to sell on his name. There’s a chance this could have been a more entertaining and better movie if Seagal was replaced by a martial artist who actually gives a damn. But that would probably hurt the sales of this movie. When was the last time you saw a movie starring Luke Goss and thought to yourself: “I want to watch that movie?”

And that’s why we’re treated to shitty movies by a washed up actors not giving a fuck.

Cartels poster
Cartels poster
  • Year:
  • Director:
    • Keoni Waxman
  • Cast:
    • Steven Seagal
    • Luke Goss
    • Georges St-Pierre
  • Genres:
    Action, Crime, Thriller
  • Running time:


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