Thursday, 8 May 2008
THE PATRIOT (1998)
Directed by: Dean Semler
Screenplay: M. Sussman & John Kingswell
Starring: Seagal, L.Q. Jones & Camilla Belle
After enduring so many of Seagal’s recent DVD output it’s actually a relief to view one of his older, decently made flicks. Now The Patriot is no great shakes but it’s certainly a lot more enjoyable than say Attack Force or Out for Kill. This is basically Seagal’s version of Outbreak where he plays a doctor (yes, a doctor!) who has to contend with a deadly virus set loose in a small Mid Western town. While attempting to find the cure he must also fight a nutty, overly patriotic Militia who set the virus (for certain barmy reasons) loose in the first place. So it’s the usual limb breaking, ball busting, and gun blazing Seagal action? Well, no. There is very little action in The Patriot, which is surprising for a Seagal flick. This, along with On Deadly Ground and Fire Down Below, was one of Seagal’s ‘message’ flicks, more concerned with the environment and native American musings than all out action. All fine and well, and good to see the tall one trying something different but, really, where is the action?
What it lacks in action, The Patriot makes up for in some lush scenic photography and a pace that never lags. The film is very well shot with some wonderful scenery on display and the camera is often moving giving the sense of momentum even when there is little action going on. The small dose of action featured is decent enough and somewhat gory and Seagal still manages to punch one dumb redneck through a wall: which is always a blessing. Seagal actually does well in some of the drama scenes featuring his onscreen daughter (Camilla Belle) but then goes all ludicrous in the ‘virus’ scenes when he has nothing but his ponytail and a fur collared coat to protect him, while everyone else is in biohazard suits. He may think that coat looks cool but it ain’t gonna protect him from a deadly virus.
Still The Patriot is an enjoyable, if very silly, hour and a half and one of the last films Seagal made before he sank into dodgy voiceovers, constant doubling, and Eastern European shot action film oblivion.