Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Under Siege 2: Dark Territory

Steven Seagal’s first sequel still stands as one of his best films and almost on par with the original UNDER SIEGE. Whereas the first film, directed by Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE), was DIE HARD on a Battleship, this one is DIE HARD on a Passenger Train. And like the original, UNDER SIEGE 2: DARK TERRITORY gives Seagal a strong villain to play off of in the hands of the glib Eric Bogosian (TALK RADIO).

“How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?” asked Bruce Willis in DIE HARD 2, and director Geoff Murphy (YOUNG GUNS II) asks us to take the same leap of faith in UNDER SIEGE 2. Former Navy SEAL turned cook (“I’m just a cook.”) Casey Ryback (Seagal) now owns a Denver restaurant, but is still touched with bad luck. The train on which he happens to be traveling with his orphaned teenage niece Sarah (16-year-old Katherine Heigl, later on GREY’S ANATOMY and briefly a feature film star) is also the one hijacked by Bogosian’s Travis Dane, who needs a moving base from which to aim a weapons satellite at the Pentagon without being detected.

Like the ship from UNDER SIEGE, the barreling train allows Murphy to stage creative action sequences within confined spaces. Of course, much of it takes place outside the train, though the visual effects are iffy at best. It still allows Murphy to stage some nasty deaths, such as Seagal tossing one villain off the front of the train to get run over and another thug off the side of the train to smash painfully into a wooden shack.

While Bogosian is no physical match for Seagal’s bone-breaking martial arts (the epitome of the “brains heavy”), Murphy and writers Matt Reeves (DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES) and Richard Hatem (GRIMM) create a formidable “action heavy” in Marcus Penn (TWIN PEAKS’ Everett McGill), who strikes an imposing figure in his Doc Savage haircut. He’s also smart enough to know that he may not be a match for the legendary Casey Ryback.

In a nod to continuity, Nick Mancuso (NIGHTWING), Dale Dye, and Andy Romano (THE PACKAGE) also return from UNDER SIEGE to fill out an impressive supporting cast that also includes Kurtwood Smith (ROBOCOP), Jonathan Banks (48 HRS), Brenda Bakke, Peter Greene, Patrick Kilpatrick, Phyllis Davis (SWEET SUGAR), and Morris Chestnut (HALF PAST DEAD) as the de rigueur black comic relief.

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