Anthony's Film Review
Under Siege (1992)
Under Siege is a typical action thriller, but still an entertaining one...
By the 1990s, audiences have been treated to a handful of action movie stars. For example, there was Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone, who are two big-name action heroes who first come to many people's minds. Around the same time, Jean-Claude Van Damme was another name associated with the genre of action movies. To that same list, you can add Steven Seagal, who briefly became a notable action movie star with the 1992 film Under Siege, a movie that doesn't break any ground, but simply does what good action movies do.
The first several minutes of the movie involves the kind of formulaic format where the main characters are going about their usual business. In other words, a setup before the big unexpected thing happens. Here, Steven Seagal is a former Navy SEAL named Casey Ryback, who now serves as a chef on a battleship that will soon be decommissioned. He is to cook for the ship captain's birthday, before there is a sudden change in plan, whereby the food will be flown in from Hawaii as a surprise for the captain. Ultimately, Ryback is displeased to the point where he angrily strikes a fellow officer. This leads him to be imprisoned, not in a cell but in a meat locker.
As for the big unexpected thing that happens, well, it's a terrorist attack. The people who arrive on the battleship to help throw the captain's birthday party suddenly draw guns, shoot some people, and round up the rest as hostages. Meanwhile, Ryback is still in the meat locker, wondering what the commotion is outside. So when people describe this movie as "Die Hard on a Battleship," they're right. The elements of the first Die Hard movie, namely terrorists striking during a party and a hero who is lucky to be initially away from the crowd, are here as well. (Naturally, the rest of this review will, to a certain extent, compare Under Siege to Die Hard.)
Regarding the star, Steven Seagal is all right as an action hero, although, because of his limited acting ability, he's definitely not at the same level as Die Hard's Bruce Willis. Also, the head terrorist, played by Tommy Lee Jones, and the corrupt naval commander Krill, played by Gary Busey, are baddies who are nowhere near as cold as Alan Rickman's Hans Gruber in Die Hard. But putting those comparisons aside, the terrorist leader in Under Siege is one cunning man. By taking advantage of the hijacked battleship's missiles, he could easily make others give in to his demands. Ryback, meanwhile, is doing what he can to sneak up on his foe without endangering anyone innocent.
And like Die Hard, there are scenes depicting a cat-and-mouse game between the hero and the terrorists, alongside scenes of outsiders attempting to provide assistance (that is, the U.S. Navy high command figuring out what to do, similar to what the Los Angeles police do in Die Hard). The action does get pretty good later on, partly because it's not just Steven Seagal taking on the villains all by himself. He does have a few unexpected allies by his side as well. What's interesting is that there may be action, including a final one-on-one fight scene, but the real thrill comes from the use of intelligence and keen planning to overthrow the enemy.
Overall, Under Siege is a standard but typical action thriller, neither awesome nor mediocre. It shows that you do not mess with Steven Seagal, even if he's a chef who used to be a Navy SEAL.
For more information about Under Siege, visit the Internet Movie Database.