It’s funny how both Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude van Damme’s careers follow a similar path. Both broke through in the 80’s and where A-list action stars in the (early) 90’s. Their popularity waned and since the millennium both have been starring in mostly Direct-To-Video movies. Since then, they both had only one theatrical movie and in both cases they played the villain. Now they both seem to headline movie that dwell on their former star power but features them in a role that could be called “supporting”. Van Damme stepped aside for Scott Adkins in the latest Universal Soldier and seems to be having a small part in next year’s “Welcome to the Jungle” but both movies feature him heavily front and center on the poster. The same goes for Seagal who might be featured prominently on the poster for Force of Execution together with Danny Trejo and Ving Rames, but it’s Bren Foster who’s the main hero in this movie.
In Force of Execution Seagal plays a gangster who owns a certain territory. He narrates the movie in his usual mumbling style and it’s quickly clear that while he might be a gangster, he’s one with a certain code of honor. Also he only gets into fights with rival gangsters and other than a hit he’s never seen pulling off typical gangster stuff like putting drugs on the streets and what not. His main man is played by Bren Foster who is one of those unstoppable hit-men specialized in a full range of martial arts. When he kills off the wrong target he’s punished by having his hands smashed to smithereens. The movie then picks up six months later with him being now unemployed and an alcoholic living above a restaurant where Danny Trejo works and which is owned by Seagal’s character. Ving Rames comes out of prison and slowly wants to take over Seagal’s territory while smoking a lot of cigars in the mean time. Seagal has to take on Rames, re-enlists Foster and is aided by Trejo.
Force of Execution is a bit of a mess plot wise. It fails to really put focus on a central plot and doesn’t have the guts to make to make Seagal a true gangster. The guy only has a handful of scenes of which some of them are really just filler, like one where he sits in front of a table full of guns and explains to his employees the qualities of each one. For an action movie the only scenes that contain some nifty fighting are the ones with Foster, sadly he’s rendered cripple and becomes a bit of a drunken master… though more of a crippled master in this case as he’s still able to take on multiple opponents by using his feet.
For such a low budget action movie, the names that are attached are pretty impressive. Sure both Trejo and Rames are no A-list stars, but their names and faces are familiar enough to draw the attention of people browsing through the DVD-bin. But they are all underused, though Rames does get a fight-scene which is obviously done by a double. Seagal on the other hand, who’s known for using doubles, seems to be doing all of his own scenes for a change.
Too bad the script is such a mess. Seagal’s previous movie “Maximum Conviction” had a much more tight and simpler plot and it worked. Movies of this caliber should not try to be the next Godfather, they should just try to have a coherent story.