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STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
“’Taken’ made a boatload of money. I like money. Let’s make ‘Retaken’. Who do we got? Smith? Cruise?”
“Well…Seagal’s not doing anything.”
“Hmm…I don’t trust eskimos, but fine. We can at least shoot in Europe, right?”
“No, budget only allows for Jersey.”
“Eh, same diff. Throw a Russian castle on the cover and we’ll call it a win!” (Look at the cover! That does not happen!)
Starring Steven Seagal, William Wisden, Igor Jijikine and Ivan Chepovetsky
Written by: Mark James
Directed by: Jeff F. King
Ex-enforcer Steven Seagal just wants to sit down, have threesomes with his girlfriend (implied!) and write about how awesome it is to be Steven Seagal. But just before his hot daughter’s wedding, a group of hired hands break in and destroys Seagal’s world. Now it’s up to him and his daughter’s whiny, spineless fiance to bring down the Russian mob like Niko and Roman.
This is a review perhaps best left to the boys and girl who haunt the B Action Movie Thread on the CHUD forums. I am hopelessly ill informed on my Steven Seagal filmography. I appreciate him as I do an old car. It might be ugly, it might be a bit slow and sound funny, but it is a survivor. It’s still going after all these years where many a young upstart has broken down and has been consigned to the scrap heap. But that doesn’t mean I want to go for a ride in it.
I can appreciate a Seagal film ironically; I think I should like him, and there are enough ridiculous, stupid moments to at least believe everyone’s having a good time. Dumb fun. The kind of films you watch with your buddies at 2 in the morning.
Not ‘Driven to Kill’. It is a movie that is, on all levels, barely a film. A terrible first draft of some dumb action movie. And frankly, I’m mad at myself for having watched it and now trying to inform you, the reader, why it’s so bad. It’s a Seagal film after all and we all know more or less what to expect.
But Jesus Christ, this is a bad movie. So bad, even the hipsters living in Williamsburg couldn’t appreciate it. It’s a bad bad movie, not fun, not smart and with poor technical attributes that serve up some unholy trinity of awfulness that flays your eyes every waking minute. 98 minutes to be exact. But it feels like four hours. I would actually suggest taking this movie in small sections, as the pacing, or lack thereof, kills nearly every scene. Even the action scenes, the entire reason you’re probably watching this in the first place, are dull and lifeless. They employ the ‘Bourne’ style of cutting, but it doesn’t quite work here. Not when your hero is a slab of mancake known as Steven Seagal. Quick cutting and aikido don’t exactly go together well.
Director Jeff F. King, or Jeffffff as I call him, is clearly the not-so-quick son of some Hollywood money type. His dad ponied up the cash, actors and, from the look of it, a VX-1000 camera. Gave them the keys to the house and said ‘go nuts’. Steadicam? Never heard of it. Continuity? Nah. Pacing? Oh god no, not in this house! I can generally give a bad movie leniency if it’s at least competent (a certain robot movie aside), but here the technical issues, a poor mix that sounds almost entirely ADRed to an unsteady camera on a wide shot, compound the issue. It’s hard to even look at.
Half the time you don’t even know what’s happening, the bad Russian accents spoken by practically everyone masking clarity and purpose. The other half, you don’t care. Oh sure, Michael Wisden is in this playing his usual scummy self, but to no end whatsoever. The motivations are legion, often retconning themselves to make this or that scene work at the moment. Seagal’s nemesis is suitably bad, but we don’t meet him until halfway through and I’m fuzzy on their own history. I think he and Seagal knew each other, but it’s hard to be sure.
Stephan, Seagal’s future son in law, has the closest thing to an arc that does not involve him going from living to not living. He starts out grating and ends up slightly less grating, but with more of a purpose. He acquires a spine like some fucked up Russian wizard of Oz. Kudos to him, you gave me an emotional investment in this film, as tenuous as it was.
But back to the action. It’s worth mentioning twice as it’s the closest thing worth seeing in the movie. Seagal is his usual self, blocking, deflecting and taking down all who oppose him. Not for one minute do you ever fear for his life. I think it’s written into his contract that he must never be hurt these days. The guns come blazing and the shootouts, despite using the basic on your street effects package, are at least interesting enough to hold your attention. They even are the impetus for the film’s more impressive kills.
It’s another direct to DVD Steven Seagal movie. I think that says it all right there. I’ll let other, better men debate where in his oeuvre this falls but I will put this in my closet and never speak of it again. ‘Taken’ wasn’t a super fantastic awesome movie, but it’s ‘Citizen Kane’ when held up to ‘Driven to Kill’.
No special features, unless you count the trailers for Possession and Taken. All three movies are exactly the same. The picture is crap, the sound is worse. This movie is for the Seagal completionist alone.