- Directed by Andrew Davis
- October 9, 1992
An American battleship is taken over by terrorists with the aid of a crazed officer. Now a chef who was once a Navy SEAL (because that happens a lot) is the only one that can stop them.
Under Siege is probably Steven Seagal’s greatest movie. Considering the garbage he has put out over his career that is nothing too hard to achieve for him. For example I have one of his more recent films Mercenary for Justice in my collection and it is really bad. I have no idea what the plot of it is and I have watched it. I am not even sure the director knew. Anyway…
Steven Seagal was in top butt kicking as well as acting (he does act here) form here as Chief Petty Officer Casey Ryback who is a former Navy SEAL serving as the culinary specialist of the USS Missouri. Naturally Ryback is the most patriotic and best of the best of the Navy SEALs and because of that got demoted when he justifiably punched a commanding officer after a failed mission because the intel was so bad.
Ryback’s tactics against the bad guys in this movie are very creative and helped to make this film a highpoint of the action genre. Under Siege also happens to be Seagal’s most well-crafted film from stem to stern. The characters are much more well-rounded and they make much more logical decisions in the context of what they are doing. They are not characters that make dumb decisions but rather make smart decisions that the bad guys counteract.
Tommy Lee Jones plays Strannix who is a former CIA black ops man that was going to be killed but managed to survive and is now using the seizure USS Missouri as a way to get revenge against the American government as well as his former boss (Nick Mancuso) for ordering the hit. The great Colm Meaney plays Strannix’s lead soldier Daumer. Both are just fantastic. Jones is great as the nearly (or quite possibly entirely) crazy Strannix and Meaney is great as his subordinate. Meaney has been described as a working-class actor. All I know is that he slides believably into whatever part he takes.
The very entertaining Gary Busey plays Commander Krill who is the Missouri’s crazy (Busey playing crazy?) executive officer who decides to help Strannix with this whole plot because of bad reviews by the ship’s captain (Patrick O’Neal). Krill and Ryback have been butting heads ever since Ryback came on board with the captain which probably did not help Krill’s tenuous grasp on sanity.
And what is an action movie without a potential love interest for the hero/bit of eye candy for the viewer? Erika Eleniak plays Jordan Tate who is a Playboy Playmate (“Miss July ’89” which is the same as Eleniak in real life) who is aboard the Missouri as part of a birthday celebration for the captain which is actually being used by Strannix as a way to get him and his people onto the boat undetected. Basically Eleniak was playing a fictionalized version of herself. Fortunately Jordan, the only female character in this movie, not only provides some comic relief but manages to be useful in the context of the story as well. She may be there for cheesecake purposes, but she is a little more useful than that.
The acting by all involved is shockingly very good and that includes Seagal. One would expect good acting from Meaney and from Jones, but Seagal was not an actor by training and gives Kristen Stewart a run for a Razzie, but he does great right here. Ryback is closer to a human being that Seagal’s usual two-dimensional characters.
Under Siege has great action taking place in a smart story with genuinely dangerous and interesting villains. Everybody has defining characteristics that separates them. The characters are entertaining enough that you care what happens to them and the humor in the story does not break the stride of the film.
If Seagal had kept doing stuff like this I think he might have been able to achieve a level of fame similar to Stallone or Schwarzenegger who were the two big bads that preceded him in the action. But he just never could. Whatever reason (and there are rumors of why) he just never could equal this in terms of quality or action.
Under Siege is a great action thriller. It has an interesting story and great characters played by people giving top performances. This is definitely watch it!