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Brooklyn cop Gino Felino is about to go outside and play catch with his son Tony when he receives a phone call alerting him that his best friend Bobby Lupo has been shot dead in broad daylight on 18th Avenue in front of his wife Laurie Lupo and his two kids by drug kingpin Richie Madano, who has been Gino and Bobby's enemy since childhood. As Gino is hunting Madano down, Gino discovers the motive behind Bobby's murder. This is when Gino's hunt for Madano leads to the showdown of a lifetime. Written by
Todd Baldridge <email@example.com>
Seagal does it by the numbers, but still does it well
IMO, this is at once the best AND the most formulaic of Seagal's endless string of beat-'em-ups. If you like Seagal, you will love this film; if you don't, OFJ probably will not convince you.
The fight scenes have a nice, bone-crunching kinetic energy to them, the plot has something of an urgent feel to it, and the soundtrack contributes greatly to the atmosphere and mood of the proceedings. I especially liked the placement and timing of 'No Sleep 'Til Brooklyn'. This played during the montage driving scene where 'Gino' (Seagal) drives through various ethnic neighborhoods and reacts to various sights and extras - to me this was the actual highlight of the film, giving the viewer a sense of place and humanity missing from most films of this type.
There are, of course, a couple of major problems with the film that keep it from being anything more than a typical Seagal action vehicle. The first one is that 'Gino' is such an unstoppable fighting machine that you never really worry about him or whether he will be a match for the villain once he finds him. And indeed, once Gino catches up with 'Ritchie' (William Forsythe, dreadfully miscast and not especially convincing), the denouement is a completely one-sided *ss-kicking that lacks any suspense whatsoever. Gino just mows Ritchie down like winter wheat and the scene comes to an end. At least Seagal had some trouble with Tommy Lee Jones and the terrorists in 'Under Siege' and with the voodoo gangster guy in 'Marked For Death' - you got the sense that he really was in danger. Not so here.
2ndly, and probably worse, Seagal seems to have decided that he wanted to stretch himself as an actor in this movie. So the script gives the movie way too many scenes where he delivers endless monologues - no, actually they are more like oratories - in a static talking head shot filmed over the shoulder of another actor (or extra). These scenes go on for literally minutes, and bring the film to a screeching halt, because Seagal just can't pull them off. Hell I'm not sure Deniro filmed by Scorcese could pull them off, because these speeches just go on and on until even the biggest Seagal fan is saying 'OK, Steven, we GET IT, you're ACTING, now can we PLEASE MOVE ALONG?!?!?"
Still this film, and the following film 'Under Siege', probably represent the peak of Seagal's career as an action star. After this he started going downhill, getting greasier and flabbier with each new release, and each new release was more and more unconvincing and badly made than the last, until finally he seems to have bottomed out with "Exit Wounds" and direct-to-video crap like "Out For A Kill".
So if you want to watch a GOOD Seagal film, consider this one. It holds up well over repeated viewings and over the decade since it was made.
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