I’ve been writing reviews of Van Damme and Seagal movies since the beginning. I’ve always tried to keep up with their DTV output and write a review as soon as the latest DVD or Blu-Ray was out. While Van Damme managed to deliver some genuine fun entries, Seagal fans gave been receiving the short end of the stick for years now. Since 2002 they’ve been treated to and endless pile of movies full of body doubles and voice dubs by somebody who is clearly not Seagal. Since The Asian Connection his movies tend to follow a new trend: Seagal being a supporting character in his own movies. The Perfect Weapon follows that trend.
My interest in Seagal movies has been fading after 2002’s Half Past Dead. I watched all of his subsequent movies hoping to catch a glimmer of a classic Seagal movie, but ended up disappointed more often than not. As of 2016 his movies have been piling up on my media server with me having little to no interest in actually watching them. My last review of a Seagal movie dates back to april 2018. Almost 5 years ago.
In 2021 Vulture published an article about geezer teasers and how Seagal is the person who started this genre. Let me summarize the process detailed in the Vulture article: Offer an ageing movie star a large sum of money for a few days work. Produce a movie as cheap as possible. Sell the movie by plastering the movie star all over the marketing material. While Seagal may have originated it, Bruce Willis perfected it and subsequently has become the geezer teaser poster child. He was in 11 movies in 2022 alone. Though his motivations for these quick and easy paydays became clear when his family released the diagnosis of aphasia and just recently dementia.
In The Perfect Weapon Seagal takes a cue out of Bruce Willis’ playbook and takes the role of the bad guy. This allows him to shoot all of his four scenes in one day. This also means that a movie that has a large picture of Seagal on the poster and his name above the title has very little Seagal in it. It’s a glorified cameo at best.
The real star is Johnny Messner who plays a hitman with the codename Condor. He works for The State, which is an uninspired name for an authoritarian group that controls the US after the last war. Which war is never mentioned, but apparently the US is now a dictatorship run by a guy who goes by the name of the Director (Seagal). Again, not the most original of names. These just seem like placeholder names that have never been replaced by actual names.
As with most hitman movies something goes awry during a job, either by accident or intentional. The hitman becomes a target and a game of cat and mouse ensues. Throw in a double cross here and there and you have yourself a movie.
The movie throws in a couple of other familiar faces as well. Vernon Wells (Commando) and Richard Tyson (Kindergarten Cop) have small roles. Tyson actually has a lot more screen time than Seagal and seems to be the actual antagonist of the movie most of the time. But even these veteran character actors can’t elevate this movie from the pile of shit that it is.
Messner seems to be the answer to the question: what if you would order Jason Statham on WISH? He’s a bald and fierce looking guy, but lacks any sort of charisma that is required to star in a movie like this. It would help if he’s a great martial artist on screen, but the action scenes consist mostly of people shooting guns at each other. Even those scenes are ludicrous as 6 heavily armed men in a hallway can’t even seem to hit a woman standing just 4 meters away.
The editing is also confusing. At one point Messner and Tyson are at odds with each other, the movie then cuts to them coming outside of surrounded build seemingly in good spirits. Messner then uses Tyson as a hostage and a shield resulting in Tyson getting shot. Messner runs away in a clear line of fire of dozens of armed men yet none of them seems to be able to shoot him. He is hit by a tranquilizer dart from an unknown woman and goes down. The next scene Tyson’s bullet wound has magically disappeared as he’s walking around as if nothing has happened.
This entire scene was confusing as hell and for the next few minutes I was wondering if the movie was doing something with flashbacks. But apparently this was not the case. Later on Messner is treated to a knife wound with a magic gizmo that heals wounds with some sort of laser technology. This could explain Tyson’s magically healed gun shot wound, but screenwriting 101 dictates that such plot devices need to be introduced before they are used.
Let’s put the focus of the main attraction of The Perfect Weapon: Seagal. He’s the only reason people will watch this movie. At this point in his career Seagal has totally given up on even faking having interest in the product he’s making. In his last few movies he sits at a table or desk 90% of the time. In every movie someone tries to strike him, which he deflects by doing some aikido move with his hands. The Perfect Weapon is no different. Not only do all of Seagal’s scenes take place in one room, it also contains a scene in which he intimidates Tyson while he’s sitting down.
Ever since Seagal reached fame he has been responsible for parts of his own dialogue. He likes to interject wisdoms and Japanese sentences into his dialogue. In The Perfect Weapon it seems as if they just have him come in, position him on a set, let him spout some lines he comes up with at the spot and call it a day.
A couple of action stars today have this thing against them being portrayed as vulnerable in movies. This is also something that Seagal seems to have originated in his movies. The more famous he got, the more indestructible he became in his movies. People could rarely land a punch on him, let alone make him bleed or kill him off. He shot his death scene in Executive Decision with extreme reluctance and when he’s playing a bad guy he often survives at the end or dies at his own hands like in Machete.
He takes it to a new level in The Perfect Weapon and I should warn you for spoilers:
He is stabbed by Messner in what is basically a sucker punch. Messner then leaves him to bleed out and we cut to Messner returning to his love interest and other allies. In a final scene Seagal turns out to have a twin brother who comes in, has a heart to heart with the wounded Seagal before killing him and swearing revenge. So he dies at his own hand and lives for a sequel that will probably never materialize.
Another recurring element in Seagal movies are the beautiful women he surrounds himself with. He often has love scenes with women in their early 20s. The Perfect Weapon is no different as he has a young naked Asian woman constantly around him.There is even a scene in which she laying naked on a bed and Seagal is caressing her body while he’s talking about massage techniques and how he will do them to her so she can do them to him. Meanwhile she’s just laying there like a dead prostitute.
Seagal himself is 66 years old when this movie was made and here we have a scene that just feels like we’re watching a prelude to a rape. And with all of the allegations that have came out in the wake of the #metoo era it would not surprise me the least if this actress has made some claims as well.
The Perfect Weapon is a low budget Blade Runner rip-off anyone should skip out on. The only positive note I had was that the effects looked pretty good for a movie of this budget. But decent special effects never save a movie and neither does Seagal these days.