The Keeper is, if I have counted correctly, the 18th Straight-To-DVD movie starring Steven Seagal since his last flopped cinematic outing Half Past Dead in 2002. Since then we’ve been treated to a steady flow of multiple DTV movies a year all varying in quality but never actually living up to the ghost of Seagal past, even though some did come close like Driven To Kill. I had some high hopes for The Keeper as it not only stars Seagal but is also written and produced by him. So at least I expect him to give his best effort to bring his fans (the last of ’em) something they so desperately crave, right?
Well yes and no actually. The movie starts off with something annoying with witnessed too much of in the past: dubbing. During the opening scene clearly someone who’s not Seagal is voicing him once more. Something I did not expect from a movie that is written and produced by him. He has a “vanity-project” after all these years in DTV-hell and he even won’t do some looping in post-production? I felt kinda raped after I noticed this dubbing. Other than the opening-sequence there is only line being dubbed so the damage is fairly small, but still, I’ve always hated it since the first movie it occurred in and it really works against the movie.
During this opening scene Seagal (named Roland this time but who cares?) is a cop (surprise!) who has been decorated and awarded many times in the past (another big surprise) busts some drug dealers who are counting their money. One gunfight later we find Seagal and his partner with lots of dead drug dealers and $2 million. The partner jokes about taking the money but Seagal, honest as he is, refuses so his partner shoots him. But Seagal, as we all know, is Hard To Kill and survives the blast that would’ve killed any other man as is mentioned in the dialogue. When his partner comes to look him up in the hospital to finish the unfinished business Seagal disposes of him and starts to work on his recovery and we’re treated to a training montage.
Meanwhile in New Mexico an old cop-buddy who’s now a wealthy oil tycoon has a daughter who was almost kidnapped the other day and decides to contact Seagal and offer him a job as a bodyguard. Seagal accepts since he’s forced to retire after being shot and starts doing security his way, meaning lots of broken bones.
I’ve already mentioned some of the bad of The Keeper and while there is more let’s take a look at the good. Even though there are not that many fight scenes the ones that are are almost Seagal classic. They even throw in some of those just-for-fun scenes that have no real meaning to the plot but are just for entertainment purposes only. The night-store robbery in Hard To Kill, the bar-fight in On Deadly Ground. This time he beats some men up who are molesting a young woman and a couple of guys harrassing a girl in a nightclub. I see a pattern here.
These scenes are classic Seagal and while they do use the rapid editing technique he still does his own fighting and does not shy away from using his feet.
What I also liked was how the movie looked like it was shot on location in New Mexico. Over the last couple of years most movies were shot in some eastern European country like Bulgary or Romania and while cheap to film there they never have pretty sights and never really are convincing in pretending to be America, France, Germany or Amsterdam. The director films pretty straight-forward so there are no flash-cuts here this time. The most inspirational sequence is the operating scene when we’re treated to all kinds of slow-motion close-up shots of injection-needles and other medical equipment.
The script, while not completely original as it rips Hard To Kill and Man On Fire among other fits Seagal nicely. No Vampires or brainwashed soldiers here this time. These kinds of movies are tailor-made for him and I wonder why they even go to the trouble to explain to us how good he was by showing trophies and certificates he has. This is Steven Seagal, he has been playing the same role for over 20 years now. When we see a movie we directly assume he’s an un-killable cop with a shady past and highly skilled in martial arts. No need to set up his character when it’s his standard role I guess, but for the new viewers (if there are any) it is obligatory of course.
Then there’s the bad. Next to the dubbing there are other sloppy elements. Standard goofs like missing elements: in one scene a GPS-necklace miraculously disappears from one shot to the next, but also fairly large ones like the name of Seagal’s character. In the beginning he’s introduced to us as Roland Salinger. With an S. Second half of the movie he is referred to as Roland Balinger, with a B. Now I can live with small errors/goofs like missing necklaces but a name change like this is freaking stupid!
The Keeper is in terms of rating a standard Seagal DTV-movie: Far from great, mediocre yet entertaining enough to hold your attention its entire running time. I place this movie somewhere between Driven To Kill/Pistol Whipped and Kill Switch. I liked it because it was entertaining enough: Seagal is as human now as he was in Hard To Kill or Above The Law. There are some entertaining fight-scenes that really echo the early 90’s. Too bad Seagal did not put in the effort to do some post-production looping and the sloppiness of the script/director because that’s what’s keeping this film from being a good DTV movie.