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STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes
As bare bones as you can get.
- English and Spanish subtitles
- A few trailers: The Marine 2, 12 Rounds, a pretty gory trailer for Wrong Turn 3, and a sleep-inducing sneak peek at the latest Stargate show.
Steven Seagal protects damsel in distress template #63C, the comely daughter of an old cop buddy, from a dangerous criminal out to make a uranium-rich land grab.
Director: Keoni Waxman
Writer: Paul A. Birkett (and an uncredited turn from Seagal himself)
Cinematographer: Nathan Wilson
Composer: Philip White
Cast: Steven Seagal, Liezl Carstens, Arron Shiver, Johnnie Hector, Steph DuVall, Luce Rains, Kevin Wiggins
The Seagal faithful will find much to love, while those new to the fold might be impressed by how well it carries itself.
The man with the knife clearly has not seen any Seven Seagal movies.
It’s no secret to anyone Steven Seagal has gotten old. Fortunately for the one-man justice machine, his remaining audience has aged along with him, and while they may not have access to shiny black mullet weaves, slimming black suits, and a bucket or two of artificial suntan, they do have Seagal indefatigably enacting their power fantasies on the small screen. His star has fallen considerably from his early ‘80s/mid ‘90s heyday, but the fact that Seagal has carved out a respectable career in the video marketplace for this long is pretty admirable. Seagal’s new-found notoriety as A&E’s most recent reality star in Steven Seagal: Lawman has also minted hundreds (dozens?) of aspiring Seagalogists, all of whom are curious about the DTV Man in Black’s recent output. Can the DVD ouevre be anywhere near as entertaining as Seagal’s gasp-ridden pursuit of the fleeing drunkards and car thieves of Jefferson Parish? How does Seagal cover up that fascinating “Creole Lite” accent in his movies? And how does “Seagal Sense” work without the benefit of blurry lenses and epileptic camera men? The Keeper implores us to examine and find out.
For you, a wild night. For Seagal, breakfast.
Shot down by a treacherous partner in a drug raid, L.A. supercop extraordinaire Roland Sallinger (or Ballinger, depending on which draft of the script the actors have memorized) makes a quick recovery when said treacherous partner visits the hospital to finish the job. Feigning a coma, Seagal snatches a pistol from a conveniently placed purse and finishes off the partner instead. Flash forward to a recovering Seagal at home, dependent on pain meds and facing down a mandatory retirement from a police department unwilling to pay for his rehabilitation. A trophy shelf that doubles as an exposition sounding board displays Seagal’s many achievements in the realm of law enforcement and ass-kickery, and an equally game visiting well-wisher informs us that Seagal is “the inspiration for every guy that ever applied for the SWAT team” and that she’s seen him “sustain injuries that would kill most men,” just in case we didn’t figure out he was a badass when he faked a coma and took down his would-be assassin from a hospital bed.
The University of Phoenix has really expanded its diploma offerings in recent years.
Within minutes of receiving the letter informing him of his mandatory retirement, Seagal gets a call from one of the men featured in pictures on his trophy shelf, a cop buddy turned oil baron out in Texas who needs Seagal to look after his sex-on-toast of a daughter from kidnappers.
o Willing to make the ultimate sacrifice.
o Is the only one you can trust.
o Inspires creepy fascination in the daughters you’re hiring him to protect.
Of course, Seagal obliges, eager to take advantage of a state apparently bereft of personal injury attorneys, but not before taking care of a few loan sharks threatening his chauffeur’s fetching cousin. Seagal also encounters the Texas law in the form of Will Ferrell and John Michael Higgins’ lovechild, who’s out to bring down Jason Cross, a local criminal Seagal later correctly singles out with that uncanny Seagal Sense as the movie’s main villain. Lucky for Seagal, nearly every plot point is discussed at length by henchmen lunching in outdoor cafes just as he’s walking by.
The iPod’s got nothing on Radio Shack’s new handheld, now with GPS by Amiga.
The plot in a venture such as this is, of course, beside the point. Never mind that Nikita, Seagal’s ward, struggles to remember Seagal when reintroduced to him, only to later to recount at length a Siamese umbrella he gave her when she was a child that she’s always treasured. Don’t worry that the loan sharks threatenening his chauffeur’s cousin just so happen to also be Jason Cross’ henchmen. We’re here to see Seagal kick, shoot, and throw daggers at stubble-laden thugs. The kicks may be a little lower than they used to be and the camera angles are usually constrained to highlight his victims’ faces writhing in pain rather than showcase any of Seagal’s faltering agility, but his aim with guns and knives remains unparalleled, thanks to effective editing. The baddies fail to land a single punch on Seagal’s portly and mostly stationary frame, his short sprints away from gunfire are mercifully hidden behind pillars and bushes, and the action is cut so Seagal only has to run less than a second per sprint. The Keeper serves up the action, and anyone who knows their way around a B-movie will likely be satisfied.
“She had to have noticed me, right? Maybe she thinks I’m Bruce WIllis. Play it cool, Steven. Play it cool.”
Performances outside the action are actually pretty good. The main bad guy does what he can with what he’s given and sells it, for the most part. Both Seagal’s buddy/employer and the lawman foil hampered by all the rules Seagal stands above are likable enough. And the actress playing the oil baron’s daughter, or “the kept” to Seagal’s keeper, ably conceals her gag reflex while portraying the crush she develops for the protector three times her age. As for Seagal, you know what you’ll be getting: chronic underenunciation verging on a speech impediment liberally peppered with “you know” “uh,” “man,” “Lord,” and “That’s what I’m talking about,” for varying degrees of emphasis emphasis. And much like in Lawman, his chameleonic tendency to unintentionally adopt the accent of whomever he’s speaking with garners a chuckle or two, most often when he banters with the plucky Cheech stand-in serving as his Hispanic chauffeur.
Sexting takes on a disturbing new dimension when Nikita forgets “Dad” comes before “Dan” in her phone’s contacts list.
All in all, The Keeper really isn’t bad for a DTV effort. It does bring the action, but regenerated interest in Seagal’s career from the reality show might be better served by a slightly stronger flick. Maybe the newly released A Dangerous Man would suffice. One could only hope the tenets of the Seagal code on display here will apply in that film too.
The tenets of the Seagal code are these:
- When somebody pulls a knife on you, kill them.
- Never kill children.
- When someone you wish to intimidate pulls a knife on you, call him a child and pontificate at length about the contradiction between rules one and two while throttling them one-handed.
- Never trust any male under 40, as they will soon prove to either be a henchman out to kill you or a cowardly backstabber looking for their cut of the ransom/drug money/blackmail proceeds/et cetera.
- Exception: Trust ethnically appropriate stereotype sidekick, as he can allow you to show off your Spanish chops, and he’ll most likely enlist his family of mercenaries to your aid after you save his cousin from henchmen.
- Let the 20-something waif come to you, because she will. If you lech on her before that point, you’ll just be creepy. Only imply that romance will soon bloom instead of acting on it for fear of a shirtless makeout scene on-camera.
“Frog in your throat, you say? Let me take care of that…”
Not available at time of review.