It’s been a while since we saw the release of a Steven Seagal movie. 2010’s Born to Raise Hell was the last one not counting all those True Justice episodes that have been released in the mean time as feature films as well. Now he’s back in DTV land with the release of Maximum Conviction which sees the once great action hero teaming up with former WWE star Steve Austin to keep people from breaking into a prison and capturing a person of interest. As with all Seagal movies the question is: how good is it compared to the man’s other movies?
2012 basically marks a celebration as Seagal has been releasing DTV movies for a decade now. Movies with low production values, often filmed in Eastern European countries, sometimes using lots of stock footage from other movies and from time to time have Seagal dubbed because he couldn’t come in during post-production to re-record some lines. I must say that the first half of this decade was certainly worse than the second half which saw a little increase in quality, though a movie like 2009’s Against The Dark is still an atrocity in every sense of the word.
Maximum Conviction, a rip-off of Assault on Precinct 13 with a touch of Die Hard, sees Austin and Seagal play two ex-military men turned private contractors who deliver two female prisoners to an off-the-grid prison which is about to be decommissioned. I didn’t quite understood how this worked, but it’s probably an excuse to save money on actors playing inmates. The story behind the two female prisoners is kept from us, but when a group of mercenaries posing as US Marshalls show up it’s clear that these girls aren’t your average shoplifters. Long story short: Seagal, Austin and their crew have to go to great lengths to keep certain people out of the wrong hands.
First of all a shout out:
KEONI WAXMAN: KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF ADOBE AFTER EFFECTS!
God, this man’s style is annoying. Basically he constantly uses filters and other cheap tricks to give the audience a sense of craftsmanship. Apparently he decided that videocameras are an important part of this movie so he constantly gives us overhead shots from their POV complete with filters. Filters should be used to convey a message to the audience, not because you think they make your movie look cool.
He is as subtle as a blunt axe to the face. In the beginning of the we see a garbage truck heading towards the prison. The company name is Troy Disposal Services and the logo even includes a horse. Really people? Really? Who could have guessed this trucks holds a group of mercenaries? This is the kind of “subtle” nods Waxman brings to this movie.
But as a Seagal movie and compared to his early DTV movies this is surprisingly watchable even if it doesn’t make sense 100% of the time. There’s no voice dubbing and though the camera is as close on him during fight scenes as ever at least there weren’t any obvious stunt guys doing his work for him. Though they are featured together on the cover the main leads are separated throughout the majority of the movie. Austin is clearly the more imposing one but has never had the fan base Seagal once had. Still I found him to be much more interesting to follow as his scenes actually had something menacing to them. He was a convincing ex black ops, while Seagal hardly looks like walking killing machine. The fact that he wears some sort of unflattering armor that makes him even look fatter doesn’t help. At least there is a little bit old Seagal when he calls a guy whose bones are sticking out of his body and is screaming about a “fucking pussy”.
There is one thing I didn’t understand about this movie. There’s Seagal who’s sixty and hardly mobile and there’s Austin who’s near his fifties and while he packs a mean punch his fight scenes lack grace. They are backed up by a small crew of which Bren Foster is a part of. Now his biography says that he is a Tae Kwon Do World Champion. At the end of the movie he has a very impressive fight scene with one of the bad guys displaying more mobility and grace than Austin and Seagal combined. Why didn’t they put more of him in the movie? It’s a waste of talent.
Maximum Conviction is the movie you probably expect it to be; a simple and flawed story line, yet mildly entertaining, but instantly forgettable. At least it’s a first to see Seagal along side a fellow action star, that will make it interesting for some people to watch it. Just don’t expect them to have many scenes together, and the scenes they do have together feature awkward exposition dialogue that is terribly recited. As if there’s someone next to the camera holding up their lines… which would surprise me as much as this movie did; hardly.