A sequel to Steven Seagal’s smash hit “Under Siege” should have equalled or even excelled its predecessor. Yet like “On Dangerous Ground” it failed to draw in the fans who were seemingly not impressed with this “Die Hard” style plot moved from a battleship to a train. Still despite its disappointing performance at the box office, it is a fair attempt to capture the essence of the original with one or two eyebrow raising moments.
Steven Seagal is back as culinary Navy SEAL warrior Casey Ryback , this time as a civilian taking a train ride with his estranged niece Sarah played by a young Katherine Heigl. This time Ryback is pitted against sociopathic disgruntled weapons designer Travis Dane played by Eric Bogosian and his mercenary partner Marcus Penn (Everett McGill).
Morris Chestnut takes up sidekick duties from Erika Eleniak, as the sharp talking train porter Bobby Zachs.
Watching helpless from the command centre as Travis Dane electronically commanders the weapon he built is “Robocop” bad guy Kurtwood Smith as General Stanley Cooper, and returning from the first film are Admiral Bates (Andy Romano), Captain Garza (Dale Dye), and CIA head Tom Breaker played by Nick Mancuso.
Following the death of his brother, Casey Ryback travels with his niece Sarah on the Grand Continental train to Los Angeles to visit her father’s grave, also hoping the trip will offer the opportunity to reconcile their differences. However, the journey is derailed by terrorists who hijack the train and turn it into a mobile HQ, to take control of a devastating satellite weapon. It’s a race against time for Ryback as once again, he calls on his skills to stop the terrorists from carrying out their deadly plans.
Unlike the first film, the action in “Under Siege 2” consists mostly of sporadic shoot ‘em up firefighting with very little of the inventive booby traps (save for an exploding cocktail shaker) and Seagal’s trademark close quarters mix of Aikido and Karate.
When he is not spraying the baddies with a rainstorm of bullets Ryback takes out hard-core mercenaries with a single chop, kick or neck breaker. Though few in number, these moments continue to be crowd pleasers mainly due to the satisfaction of seeing a terrorist fall at the hands of the big man.
As always Seagal passes as a credible one man force of nature though at times he comes across as too indestructible. There is a distinct absence of threat posed to Ryback as he is overly calm and self-assured in the face of danger.
At times there is a feeling that Seagal is bored, lacking the sense of urgency when fighting the terrorists which (given the story) calls for his niece to be rescued -takes away some sense of gravitas to drive the action. The showdown against a knife wielding Penn does turn the threat up a notch providing the film with its own “From Russia with Love” Connery-Shaw style train battle.
On its own “Under Siege 2” is a decent enough action adventure that is not without some entertainment value.
However it does struggle in comparison to its predecessor and lacks the components that made it a hit. There are some notable moments in particular Katherine Heigl performing a Nikkyo lock on porter Morris Chestnut who in turn uses it to dispense with a terrorist. Both provide amiable support to Seagal with Bogosian and McGill convincing in their villainous roles.
The script though predictable provides ample entertainment in terms of action and the occasional witty one liners (“nobody beats me in the kitchen”) and director
keeps things chugging along at a steady pace.
- According to an interview published in ‘The Big Issue’ magazine, Steven Seagal announced he was working on a third “Under Siege” movie.
- The film’s fight choreographer is former Brazilian Jiu Jitsu champion John Machado. In his career Machado won state, national and world championships and is a two time Pan American Games champion. He has also appeared in various movies such as “Kickboxer 4; The Aggressor” (1994) and “Heatseeker” (1995).