Like JCVD and Sylvester Stallone, Steven Seagal is an all too easy punch line for jokes about pathetic has-beens. A prime example of how time renders the things we once enjoyed puzzling (wait, Miley Cyrus was an entertainer in 2013?).
But the fact is if you can look beyond the awful stringy ponytail, the leather skin and the awful dialogue that left Seagal as credibility’s whipping boy, the fact remains that he did a lot of things right.
No-one could craft an ‘everyone form a large awkward square around me and attack me one at a time so I can dispatch you in our pre-determined order and method’ fights better than Steve.
No-one else could simultaneously patronise, compliment and physically belittle a suspect or source the same way Steve could. (You’d be describing the results of your ‘questioning’ to the physio weeks afterwards.)
No-one played the Italian-American card as clumsily as Steve. In this film alone he speaks subtitled Italian and (should be subtitled) New York strine, often in the same sentence. He talks to Made Guys, Wise Guys, Mamas and tousled the hair of neighbourhood kids – who without his guidance and hair tousling would surely go off the rails.
No-one else tried the no sleeves shirt and beret combo before him. For good reason…
Of course the guilty allure of all of the above couldn’t last. Seagal arrived and was rendered pointless in as much time as it took for us to ponder ‘wait he is being serious?’ 3 years to be exact. Nico: Above the Law arrived in 1988, followed quickly by Hard to Kill and Marked for Death, before this film closed off his relevance in 1991. (Sure Under Siege arrived a year later, but as a huge Die Hard fan I simply cannot credit that film.)
Out for Justice sensibly stays within its lane. Seagal is a cop on the trail of a cop-killer. Strangely enough despite the fact that the drug fueled bad guy never seems to hide or lay low, and Seagal never ceases his search even momentarily, the two don’t come face to face until the finale. What follows is bada-bing, bada-boom. Thankfully mostly boom.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. The ‘guilty’ part of guilty pleasure doesn’t negate the ‘pleasure’ part. The only thing that prevents Out for Justice attaining worthwhile status is all of the dull non-violence that steal minutes between the good bits.