a critiQal film review Exit Wounds (2001)

Plot: After being demoted for embarrassing the Vice President, detective Orin Boyd (Seagal) is sent to the worst precinct around, the 15th. After a huge heroin heist goes down, Boyd begins trailing the mysterious Latrell Walker (DMX), who seems to be right in the middle of it. But he’s not alone..some of the cops of the 15th are in on it too - but how many? Not knowing who to trust, Boyd is on his own on this one...isn’t he?

Reviewed
934 words (Est. Reading Time 4m 40s)
  • ...DMX and Director Bartkowiak help this movie try to overcome the Seagal factor.

As I was watching Cradle 2 the Grave (2003) the other day, during the end credits Tom Arnold (of True Lies (1994) fame – not to mention being Rosanne Barr’s ex) and Anthony Anderson (last seen in Romeo Must Die (2000)) happen to mention the film Exit Wounds. I’d heard about the film a little while ago, but hadn’t ever gotten around to seeing it.

Looking into it, I noticed it was a Steven Seagal flick, but Tom Arnold and Anthony Anderson also co-starred, and it was directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak (Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)). I was intrigued, so I figured I’d check out Exit Wounds, and see if Steven was performing anywhere near his Under Siege (1992) career-high performance.

Seagal is getting a bit old for action films. Schwarzenegger has slowed down, Bruce Willis is drifting more to suspense and quirkier roles, and even Rambo himself, Sly Stallone, is moving into kids films (Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over (2003), now in theaters). So why is Seagal not taking his cue from his fellow aging action stars? Who knows…maybe his ponytail is a little tight, maybe his ego doesn’t allow him to listen to other people, maybe he’s just trying to cash in on the new martial arts explosion taking over Hollywood…whatever the case, he’s sticking to his guns. Is it admirable, or is it pathetic?

A little bit of both. He seems to have aged well, looking pretty much the same as he always has. But that’s part of his problem, as well. Viewers have already seen what Seagal can do. He knows one role, and keeps repeating it, movie after movie. It was fun to watch when it’s new, but it’s really starting to get old in Exit Wounds. He’s picking new directors, and trying to go the rap co-star route popular these days.

Is it helping? His co-star is the big difference maker. It didn’t work in Half Past Dead (2002), with Ja Rule, so could DMX step up and become the star in Seagal’s place? Yes he could, and he did.

DMX has continued to grow in his career. This role actually fit him a little bit better than his next role, in Cradle 2 the Grave (2003). In that film, he shows a bit of awkwardness when it comes to dealing with his character’s daughter, almost as if it’s embarrassing that he has a kid.

In this film, that element doesn’t even enter into the picture, so he comes off much smoother. He seems to have picked up acting quickly, and brings his “street” persona that he’s cultivated through the years with him in his transition to films.

Andrzey definitely seems to like him, since he’s appeared in 3 of his films now (Romeo Must Die (2000), Exit Wounds and Cradle 2 the Grave (2003)). And it seems like he’s definitely picked a winner. The real test for DMX, though, will be when he’s giving a role that requires him to step away from the safety of his long-created persona, and then we’ll see what he can do.

The plot was a bit confusing at first, but it comes together in the end. Exit Wounds itself seems to be thrown together a bit. In the beginning, the film moves along smoothly, and the story unfolds quite nicely. The second half of the film, though, seems to be kind of in a rush to cram everything in before the end credits. It’s almost as if they suddenly realized halfway through they had less than an hour to wrap things up, so they just crammed in what they could and left it at that. This rushed feeling is evident when the bad cops suddenly become overt in all their actions, and start shooting up the place, no matter who else is around.

This seems to be a bit unrealistic, since we are assuming they are trying to keep everything under wraps, rather than being found out. If you’re doing something illegal, why would you suddenly decide to let everybody know it? It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but does present the opportunity for a few more action sequences.

The action is quite well done, for a Steven Seagal flick. Steven tries to get an update, with Andrzej’s help, with the use of wires and a bit more moving around than he’s used to, and that definitely helps to add an extra level of excitement to the action sequences. In addition to the martial arts we’re used to seeing from Seagal, we get to see a lot more somersaulting, rolling, and even jumping added into the mix. It makes it a bit more refreshing, and definitely kicks the excitement up a notch.

All in all, with a huge kick from DMX and director Andrzej Bartkowiak, Exit Wounds is Seagal’s best film since Under Siege (1992). But, it’s a good film in spite of Seagal, rather than because of him.

Sure, it’ll help his career, but should it? I don’t think so. I think it’s time that Seagal takes a long hard look at his career, and lets that sleeping dog lie. Sure, he had his heyday, but it’s time to throw in the towel. Don’t believe me? Watch this film, then pop in Cradle 2 the Grave (2003) – then tell me you can’t see the difference between falling star Seagal and rising star Jet Li. Who helps the film, and who hinders it? One guess.

Stop Seagal, before your Exit Wounds are theater doors slamming as people leave in droves.

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