Sunday, 6 April 2008

Attack Force (2006)

This is about the extent of attack force Seagal delivers in this film

Steven Seagal released three Direct-to-Video films in 2006. One of these was Michael Keusch's Attack Force, a film so rushed and sloppy it hit video store shelves with an audible splat! It starts with a murky action sequence that has Seagal retrieving a doohickey in a briefcase from what I assume are evil terrorists. Seagal plays Michael Lawson, a covert ops specialist who is so covert that his name randomly changes from Michael to Marshall and he sounds like someone completely different about half the time. After this confusing and pointless action sequence, he gets called away to Paris on a training mission.

This is the kind of film that insults your intelligence right off the bat, by having an establishing shot of the Eiffel Tower and then a subtitle that reads "France, Europe". Then again, since the rest of the shooting locations look suspiciously like budget-friendly Eastern Europe, it probably pays to spell it out.

Seagal's titular attack force is about twenty years his junior, and resemble a bunch of frat boys rather than covert ops specialists. After sitting around discussing how much of a bad-ass Seagal is (and I'm glad they said so, because there's nothing in this film that would indicate as such) they decide to hit the town and pick up a hooker. When they're getting ready to double-team her (with the third guy locked outside and whining away... what a mood killer!) she whips out a weird-looking knife and carves herself some turkeys.

Seagal may display nothing more than a bewildered, blank stare upon discovering their bodies, but you know he's burning with rage inside, and his subsequent investigations lead him to some Eurotrash terrorists with ties to the military. It appears a rogue biochemist/terrorist/pimp is infecting the local populace with a drug called CTX. He is using locals as test subjects, marketing it as a party drug, but it also turns them into unstoppable killing machines. He's also dumped a whole lot of it in the water supply for some reason, and thousands of people are going to be infected within 12 hours. That's bad news... for walls. Yes, evil drug addicts are busting through walls, throwing other people through walls and Seagal's partner even gets tossed through two walls in a single throw. Even Seagal gets in on a bit of wall-busting action.

With the evil government agents who funded the development of CTX on his tail, Seagal is soon surrounded by a swirling mess of subplots and side characters that are randomly killed, resolved off-screen or forgotten entirely. His partner helps him to put together a new attack force and gets him a whole lot of guns and some cool wrist-blades. After he foils an attack by government agents, he gathers his new attack force and heads to an isolated cathedral for the final showdown.

The final fight with the sexy terrorist leader (who up until now has had a sum total screen time of about a minute) consists of repeated enemy-POV shots of Seagal frantically swiping his meaty paws at the camera like the cameraman is holding a cheeseburger just out of frame. The impact of every blow is punctuated by a white flash and whooshing sound effect, which is extremely annoying. Eventually he gives her a chest wound that magically jumps from one side to another, before stabbing her in the head and putting her down for good. Seagal limps away with the only other survivor, a member of his attack force who was introduced about ten minutes prior. Roll credits. I guess we'll have to wait for Attack Force 2 to find out about the CTX in the water supply.

There is evidence of post-production tampering all over the place, with unresolved subplots, dubbed lines, clumsy exposition etc. Apparently the film was originally titled Harvester and was about Seagal fighting aliens. Actually, that explains a lot. Having aliens or terrorists as your antagonists seems like something you'd want to sort out prior to post-production, but that's the magic of cinema.

Yeah, this film is pretty bad, even by Direct-to-Video action standards. The few action sequences are murky and limp and the script is a loose connection of plot holes. Seagal does the bare minimum to get away with star billing and for about half the movie he is dubbed by someone who sounds nothing like him. Worse still, only one limb is broken, and it's not even done by Seagal. Weak. This film is the equivalent of Seagal flipping the bird to his fans.

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