Exit Wounds gives us something that no one would have expected a year before it’s release: the theatrical resurrection of 90s action hero Steven Seagal. To a European he seemed to have descended into straight to video movies after The Glimmer Man. Stuck in B-movie limbo. Fire Down Below never reached cinemas over here and went straight to the local video store. The Patriot made even less of a splash. I didn’t even catch these on VHS back then. When you go to a video store I always want for the latest big blockbuster which is just out on video or a horror movie. So to me it has been over 5 years since I last heard of Seagal. And in that regard Exit Wounds is somewhat of a comeback for him in my opinion.
Exit Wounds touches upon familiar Seagal subjects like police corruption and the maverick cop. Seagal is Orin Boyd, an honest cop who has thrown the book hoe should do things by out of the window a long time ago. In the opening scene he single-handedly saves the vice president from a terrorist attack by throwing him off a bridge into the water. All while going against direct orders of his superiors. So they demote him to the worst precinct in town. There he stumbles upon a group of cops and a few thugs who both turn out to be something else.
The most refreshing element of Exit Wounds is the make-over they have given Seagal. Almost everything that was annoying about him has been removed. The ponytail, the goofy wardrobe, the zen wisdoms and his self-absorbing seriousness. He even seems to have lost a few pounds. Despite these changes the character of Orin Boyd is still classic Seagal. The tough cop who goes at it alone and takes out groups of street thugs on his own. I would have wanted to add “without breaking a sweat” to that sentence, but Seagal seems to be sweating constantly.
He’s aided by a large cast consisting of a few familiar faces. DMX is billed second as Latrell Walker. The drug dealer who turns out to have a mission of his own going. If it wasn’t for Seagal receiving most of the screen time this would have very much be his movie. The supporting cast consists of Isaiah Washington, Eva Mendes, Michel Jai White, Jill Hennessy and Bruce McGill. There are also small comedic parts for Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson. They provide the well needed dose of humor in what would be otherwise a generic action movie.
Even Seagal manages to provide the audience with a laugh or two, even laughing at himself at one point. For someone who takes himself so serious that is quite an achievement.
Exit Wounds isn’t a great movie, but it was way more enjoyable than I had expected. Despite the occasional plot-hole so big you can drive a yellow Hummer through it. When you see Exit Wounds as a Seagal movie, it’s one of the better ones. Personally I tend to see it as the final good Seagal movie. It was his last movie with Warner Brothers and the last movie before he permanently started headlining straight to video movies. Personally I’m ignoring Half Past Dead since that movie not only failed at the box-office but also went straight to video over here.
I would like to point out that Exit Wounds actually looks very slick. The cinematography is great and the colors are vibrant. The action is also good with Seagal even using some wire-work to provide us with moves we haven’t seen him do on screen before. And probably never will again. The inclusion of Michael Jai White as the final nemesis of Seagal is a great choice. He is probably the Kevin Bacon of action movies as you can play “Six degrees of Michael Jai White” with almost every action hero.
The soundtrack is filled with rap songs, most of them supplied by its star DMX. This gives Exit Wounds something of an urban vibe. Something none of the other Seagal movies has. Another element that makes this movie stand out from the rest of his filmography.
Bottom line: Exit Wounds is a decent and fun action movie. It’s sure to entertain you for 1,5 hours unless you hate Steven Seagal.