- Directed by Geoff Murphy
- July 14, 1995
Casey Ryback encounters cyber terrorists on a train while on a trip with his niece.
The first Under Siege is an action classic. It’s not the greatest film in the world but it’s a solid action film and dare I say Steven Seagal’s most intelligent movie. The story is intriguing and believable based on the world they create. It is a great thriller with a strong cast that you will repeatedly revisit.
Under Siege 2: Dark Territory is big, dumb, and loud. As a follow-up to a film like Under Siege it pales in comparison. If it were its own thing, Steven Seagal might’ve been considered to have starred in a guilty pleasure of an action film much in the vein of something like Stallone’s Cobra or perhaps even Schwarzenegger’s Commando.
Casey Ryback (Steven Seagal) finds himself on a train with his niece Sarah (Katherine Heigl) going to his estranged brother’s funeral. Aside from getting Casey on the train along with his niece, that plot point really doesn’t factor in anything in either character development or the overall story. Not that there is any level of real character development.
Steven Seagal is no great thespian. He is not even a mediocre thespian. He handled the first film surprisingly well despite his shortcomings. Ryback was good at what he did in the last film but here he is ludicrously awesome compared to everyone else. The only thing he can’t do is bring back the dead. A wannabe Chuck Norris if you will.
As demented villains go in dumb action movies, Eric Bogosian as Travis Dane is just great in this. He is a fantastic off his rocker greedy bastard. His plan is to use Grazer One, a top secret military satellite particle weapon to create earthquakes, to destroy Washington DC and then get away with $1 billion all the while covering his tracks in a train collision. Sorry to ruin it for you people. I think what bothered me was how is Dane planning on getting away? The villain in the last movie had a fairly understandable plan even if you didn’t know all the particulars but this guy just seems to think he can ride off a helicopter to wherever.
Everett McGill is Dane’s partner in crime Marcus Penn. Dane is the brains and Penn is the muscles. I can’t say I’ve always been impressed by McGill, but I think it was very good here. Just cold and intimidating throughout.
I don’t mind an over-the-top finale, but some over-the-top finales are beyond ridiculous. You find it difficult to suspend your disbelief. For instance Dane steers his train towards an oncoming train loaded with fuel to help hide his escape. When both trains collide (don’t even begin to consider that the other train had somebody driving it) Casey Ryback runs away from the impacting train towards the back of the train he’s on and leaps out of the open door onto a ladder dangling from a helicopter. Really? I’m no expert in train collisions but it’s not gonna crunch like an accordion and bust up. Nothings gonna just buckle. Those cars are going to flip and if you’re on a bridge above water you’re going to be in that water pretty soon if you didn’t get torn up in the impact.
It’s not uncommon for movies to work their title into the dialogue. Sometimes you will miss the mention but other times it hits you upside the head like a brick bat. The term ‘dark territory’ refers to a point in the mountains where the train can’t use this radio to broadcast out. Those two words get dropped a few times in needlessly ominous ways. You cannot help but notice them.
Sarah is clearly underage. Bobby (Morris Chestnut), the porter who acts as comic relief to Ryback, is lightly flirting with her. It’s just kind of weird. He’s clearly an adult and she’s clearly not legal in the context of the film. Creepy!
Katherine Heigl herself is barely in this movie. Her presence seems to be mostly to give a little bit more emotional importance to Ryback needing to kill the terrorists. As if killing 8 million people in Washington DC by targeting the Pentagon and setting off a top-secret nuclear reactor beneath the Pentagon isn’t enough.
This is a dumb rehash of the first film with coincidence being what gets Ryback into the situation. But as dumb action movies go this isn’t bad. Its major issue is that it’s connected to a superior film. If it wasn’t it would be a whole other deal.
Under Siege 2: Dark Territory is a guilty pleasure of film. It’s not great but it is very enjoyable. I could see you popping it in again.