I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Steven Seagal is The Keeper

tn_keeperTHE KEEPER is Steven Seagal’s new movie, still no release date in the U.S. but already released in England, where Seagal is so popular they even published a groundbreaking book that chronologically analyzes all his works up to PISTOL WHIPPED. This one isn’t as strong as RENEGADE JUSTICE (URBAN JUSTICE to us Americans) or PISTOL WHIPPED, and not much better than the okay DRIVEN TO KILL, but don’t worry, it’s much better than the less-than-half-assed AGAINST THE DARK and the Guinness Book of World Records-worthy all time most disorienting editing of KILL SWITCH.

The pace is slow and it’s light on weirdness (at least KILL SWITCH has that crazy twist ending) but overall a fairly solid effort. Seagal continues his Old Charles Bronson phase, and as I re-watch parts of it to write this review I find myself really appreciating the little character moments, a sign of a DTV that’s gonna grow on me in repeat viewings.

mp_keeperSeagal plays Roland Sallinger, an L.A. cop forced to retire after his partner shoots him over some drug money. Luckily an old friend from the Romanian police force hires him to come to Bucharest to bodyguard his daughter, whose boyfriend is the star forward on the Tornadoes football team. Just kidding – that’s what it says on the back of the DVD, but in the actual movie he goes to Texas and the boyfriend is a famous boxer. That’s a better setting in my opinion, although it fails to communicate what the box says about the gang problems being rooted in the fall of communism.

So yes, he gets a big white cowboy hat and goes down to Texas to protect his friend’s daughter (Liezl Carstens, who was also in URBAN JUSTICE and looks alot like Krista from BLADE: THE SERIES) from kidnappers working for a corrupt business rival and alleged white/Hispanic separatist. This is one of those movies where they say the bad guy’s racist just to make him more hateable and then don’t really back it up, like the way THE PATRIOT tells you the militia men are neo-Nazis without showing any evidence.

Some of the old Seagalogy motifs discussed in that popular English book are back in play. No CIA background, but he does have a fight in a bar and speaks a bunch of Spanish (not just phrases but also an entire subtitled conversation). It seems like it’s headed toward the traditional DTV Era awkward-love-scene-with-much-younger-woman, but that goes unrealized. The girl the Keeper Keeps seems to get a crush on him, but he doesn’t go for her. And I’m glad, because she remembers him buying her gifts when she was a little girl. It would’ve been creepy.

One thing I like about this movie is that it’s the opposite of those murky Seagal cloak and dagger deals I got so sick of a couple years ago. The Keeper can see through people, he knows who to trust (except for that partner that shot him) and the movie extends those powers to us. So the girl’s famous boxer boyfriend who seems like an asshole really will betray her, and everybody who seems nice won’t. It’s funny because he has so many people being nice to him I figured one of them would have to stab him in the back. The old friend and the limo driver even start acting suspicious. But the Keeper makes them explain themselves and everybody stays loyal. It’s kind of sweet.

I’m not saying he’s a “Promise Keeper,” but the Keeper does keep his promises and his loyalties. He’s a good friend.

I also like that it’s kind of like HARD TO KILL but how he would handle it now that he’s older and more experienced. Now he just takes care of shit right away instead of coming back 7 years later for revenge. He kills the guy who betrayed him while he’s still in his hospital bed. (There are 2 early scenes where he fakes being unconscious and looks like a kid faking sleep, looking around and then closing his eyes before someone sees him). Then he just does normal physical therapy like anybody else, and a little bit of the ol’ at home training. Now he has to wear reading glasses when he prepares his guns, he sighs alot and even looks at himself in the mirror and shakes his head. But since he already took care of the revenge he can forget about the partner who shot him and use the rest of the movie for a totally separate adventure.

The action is middle of the road. It’s mostly Seagal’s quick aikido pummelings, shot a little too close. There’s some gore and a vehicle chase that I thought was pretty good despite alot of greenscreened driving shots. I like that he gets in some fights unrelated to the main plot, like when the limo driver stops because some thugs are threatening his hot cousin. That’s in the tradition of the old HARD TO KILL stopping-at-a-liquor-store-during-a-robbery. I also got a laugh when the girl has been abducted and he storms into a house and kills two guys… who are hanging out with the weasely boyfriend who sold her out to save his own skin. At first you assume these are the bastards holding her hostage, but no, they’re just the boyfriend’s buddies. Sorry guys, you’re dead.

THE KEEPER isn’t bad, but it’s not one of the movies where Seagal goes the extra mile. In fact, not even the full mile. His first lines of dialogue are dubbed by someone else, and there are several obvious uses of a back-of-the-head double. On the other hand, he completely owns the role of The Keeper, or at least the packaging claims so: STEVEN SEAGAL IS THE KEEPER. (Unfortunately it doesn’t say that on the credits, so I can’t add it to my short list of “is” movies.)

By the way, I know everybody hated the cover for the original self-published version of Seagalogy, but I think it’s looking more and more prophetic:

seagalogy-lulump_keeper

I swear, with one of these movies they’re accidentally gonna make it exactly the same as my cover, even more than THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS.

One missed opportunity is with this prick boyfriend. He’s supposed to be this famous boxer, obviously Seagal should fist fight him toward the end. But not only does this guy not box with Seagal, he doesn’t really box with anyone after he’s introduced in the ring. And he doesn’t look tough, either. They could’ve done better with this character.

I like the scene where Roland practices with his throwing knives and has trouble getting them to stick. And I like how quiet and modest he is for most of the movie. He’s got a few quips, but for the most part isn’t as cocky as Seagal’s usual characters. The girl says he seems lonely, and it’s true. I bet his partner was his best friend, and now there’s just a hole there. He keeps thinking “man, I gotta tell Trevor about this” and then remembers that he’s never gonna see Trevor again because he killed him. And rightfully so.

For these recent Seagal pictures I’ve been saving the stats for when and if I ever do an update of SEAGALOGY, but this one has a “Just How Badass Is This Guy?” worth quoting: “I’ve seen you do shit that’s beyond belief. Hell, you’re the inspiration for every guy that ever applied for the SWAT team.” I’m not sure how inspirational THE KEEPER is, but it’s good enough that for Seagal fans like me it keeps hope alive.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 at 3:33 am and is filed under Action, Reviews, Seagal. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

41 Responses to “Steven Seagal is The Keeper”

  1. Is Seagal still not inviting you to dinner?

  2. Reading this review has got me itchy to re-read Seagalogy. I may have to dig out my copy (original self-published version, he said, boastfully).

    Thanks Vern. Good stuff as always.

  3. Wait a minute — people hate the self-published version of the cover? I don’t know about them, but that goddamn cover never fails to bring a smile to my face whenever I take a look at it, not to mention that along with the back and spine, it resembles a DVD case for the greatest Seagal movie never made.

  4. The cover is perfect because it shows helicopters that never appear in the actual content of the book.

  5. I just want to say a few words about AGAINST THE DARK. It’s not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination , but , incredibly , I enjoyed some of its elements . Maybe I was in my my zombie-survival-mood , or maybe it was the novelty of Seagal in a horror situation , I don’t know , but I liked the setting . Then there’s one scene that I flat-out love (spoilers ): when the guy puts a grenade inside a broken bottle , and then stabs a zombie with it . Boom! At least this movie has this 2 elements going for it , it’s not much , but it’s there. I will wait for the Keeper ( and others still unreleased Seagal movies ) to come to Italian television , since here Seagal is still primetime national TV material ( just yesterday NICO was on ).

  6. Remember guys to search for Seagalogy on Facebook.

    If you’re that way inclined of course.

  7. What’s that book called? I think I own a copy.

    I really liked this one. It’s seems like his most striaght up film in a while(Pistol Whipped and Urban Justice were excellent though)

  8. I thought for sure the Sheriff was bent but no, he’s just a weak actor.

    My review(shameless shill)
    http://tinyurl.com/yc4dazz

  9. Vern, why isn’t your next book coming out until March ’10?

    I need something to read and Ebert’s Scorsese book didn’t quite cut the mustard.

  10. I just read a few days ago that this movie will be released uncut in Germany. (Apparently Kill Switch wasn’t.)
    Anyway, I just wanted to say that the German DVD cover says for any reason: “Steven Seagal’s The Keeper”. I guess they ran out of i’s but had enough apostrophies left.

  11. Stunt…do what I do and just go with Under The Dome. You should be warned that you might overshoot Vern’s book date by several months though.

  12. Finally! I´ve been looking forward to this review ever since I gave you the heads up that this had been released in England, Vern! I really liked this one. Definitely the best one since PISTOL WHIPPED and this one fans my flame of hope for Seagal making another DTV-masterpiece like URBAN JUSTICE. I wasn´t counting but this one has got to be the one where he smiles the most. He´s surprisingly low-key and I think it works great.
    It´s pretty funny, like you mentioned, about the DVD-cover and how it says that it´ll take place in Romania. I think it´s safe to say that the guy who wrote that did not watch the movie. However, I´m curious if he´s read a script synopsis somewhere that said that it was set in Romania? Do you have any insight into this, Vern?
    On another note, according to IMDB Seagal, is shooting “BORN TO RAISE HELL” now and his character´s name in that is… Handsome B. Wonderful!!! This has got to be the best name ever for any character…

  13. I saw that Handsome B. Wonderful thing, but I’m guessing that’s some smartass fucking with IMDB and thinking he’s making fun of Seagal. But he will regret it.

    By the way, remember that STEVEN SEAGAL: LAWMAN is streaming from the A&E websight tonight only at 8 (maybe different time in a different time zone). I can’t see it because I gotta work tonight, but you guys don’t have to wait for me.

  14. And we’ll report back about the glory of Flabby Seagull.

    Who we love.

  15. Only one man can make sure your papers and pens stay all in one place for easy portability. They call him Trapper.

    Steven Seagal IS…The Keeper.

    Someone’s got to hold it together.

  16. Well that was quite fun.

    Seagal as expected at times went on his pompous ego zen bullshit, but I gotta admit, his shooting demonstration was pretty fucking impressive.

    I mean shooting the head off a match. That was cool.

    Also Vern, didn’t you wish the cop who arrested you was Seagal?

  17. BUT who should REALLY be watching it?

    I hated “Hard to Kill” for being corny without being bizarre enough to be interesting, thought the Jamaican one with Screwface and the rastafarian who couldn’t fly (can’t remember its name now) was easily the best Seagal film, and quite enjoyed “Exit Wounds” while not discounting the fact that it’s basically a very, very bad film by pretty much any criteria except that Anthony Anderson’s presence actually improves things for once. Should I seek out this particular film?

  18. Vern’s gotta work TONIGHT . See ? Further proof he’s a chimney sweeper.

  19. Another very entertainingreview. I especially loved the ridiculous, made-up titles in the first paragraph.

  20. Shoots the head off a match eh? I’m sold. I was watching the Blue Dahlia the other night, and a match gets its head shot off (this is not the murder that has to be solved by the way) and I thought, I need to see that film more often. So thanks Seagal!

  21. What’s this next book due in 2010 then? I own a copy of Seagalogy (The Men Who Stare at Goats cover though), and frankly Vern, I demand an updated version every 10 years or so.

    Please.

    Can’t wait to see Seagal in Machete.

  22. It should be: Steven Seagal is … A Keeper.

  23. “It should be: Steven Seagal is … A Keeper.”

    That brought a smile to my day, thanks…

  24. Here’s Vern’s next Magnum Opus. Can’t wait.

    http://tinyurl.com/yfyxf57

    I like how Amazon says you’ll also like Robocop if you like this book.
    Professional.

  25. Apparently SEAGOLOGY is ranked #20 in Books > Entertainment > Movies > Genre Films. And one of the customer reviews is almost a love letter. That’s got to be considered an accomplishment.

  26. Hey, Vern is gonna see some extra royalty checks because of LAWMAN.

    Who knows, maybe Vern will have to break his witness protection public silence to be dragged onto TV/radio talk shows to discuss the awesome ridiculousness of Seagal.

    And I’m certain Vern would cause an International incident on Fox News. :)

  27. Vern, you should make a commercial for Seagology to be shown during Lawman. It could be like those old Dianetics commercials where the book is rising out of a sea of lava while a narrator tells you that it will change your life without ever telling you what it’s about.

  28. You’ll need the title of the book written in capital letters in that big, bold font that approximates steel. You can have little rivets in the corners. And you need the THUNK noise when the title smashes against the screen.

  29. Long time fan of yours and hardcore Seagalogist, first time commenter. Had to contact you about what might be the most amazing development in Seagalogy in years. You obviously know about ‘Lawman”, well I saw the official online sneak preview last night, and it is completely amazing. It blew away even my sky high expectations. I’m friends with Seagal on facebook and he invited me to watch it last night. Best event ever to RSVP to. Anyway, I’m not trolling for hits, but my review of the first episode is up on my blog, and I hope you check it out. Things are looking extremely bright for the future of Seagalogy. http://fermentedfilm.blogspot.com/2009/11/if-you-arent-my-friend-on-facebook-let.html

  30. If I find the time and inspiration, I will probably make a short just-for-fun Seagalogy commercial.

  31. Vern, thanks for the review.

    I am a long time Seagal fan, but new to the site. I recently purchased and read Seagalogy, and loved it. I can’t wait for you to release an update with his more recent DTV work. I am really looking forward to Lawman. The early reviews sound good. Maybe if we are lucky at some point during the show he will blow a major police bust so that he can beat the shit out of a pimp, or he could have a physical confrontation with a litterbug while wearing his fringe buck skin jacket.

  32. I have no comment on the above piece, as I avoided reading the review (I want to go into the film fresh), but the U.S. release date for The Keeper is on Jan 19th. Just thought you all might like to know.

  33. Thanks for the link Stuntcock Mike. The new book looks, um, badass.

    Yippie-kay-ay melon farmers.

  34. I wholeheartedly support the low budget SEAGALOGY commercial idea. What if some hardcore Vern fans were to pool our funds to buy some ad space and throw together a commercial? Would the publishers mind the third-party advertising? What do you folks think? Maybe we could at least buy some ad space on the show’s websight and put up a cheesy-looking ad for the book there.

  35. Don’t know if you’ll read this Vern but I just watched “The Keeper” last night.I’m from Scotland in the UK and I just purchased this in a triple bill boxset along with “Driven To Kill” and his latest (which you haven’t reviewed “A Dangerous Man”. Great title and the cover does state that “Steven Seagal is a A Dangerous Man”!
    I really enjoyed The Keeper and actually thought it was well directed and as you commented had nice moments, particarly with the daughter Nikita. Glad he didn’t shag her though. Intrestingly ,the film was directed by Keoni Waxman. He and Seagal must have hit it off as Waxman also directs A Dangerous Man. I will watch this tonight and keep you posted.
    And just to let you know, UK Tv is going Seagal crazy at the moment. Lawman has just started (I will now read your reviews) and several film and television channels are doing “Seagal week” or “Seagal weekend”, most in stunning HD.
    Yes,it’s a great time to be a Seagal fan!!

  36. As promised I watched “A Dangerous Man” and actually thought that “The Keeper” was the better movie. I won’t go into a full review as that is your territory Vern but I will say that there is alot more violent thant the previous collaboration with Waxman. Waxmans directorial style seems to chang e for the worse also.
    Anyway, it was entertaining enough and had very many moments worthy of Seagology lore. If it isn’t yet available in the States I will happily buy and send you a copy so you can review asap!!

  37. Seagal has pulled a new one: A Dangerous Man

  38. This element is one of the many appreciated Vernisms. The ‘filling in some hypothetical dots’ with some speculation/assumption:
    “I bet his partner was his best friend, and now there’s just a hole there. He keeps thinking “man, I gotta tell Trevor about this” and then remembers that he’s never gonna see Trevor again because he killed him. And rightfully so.”
    Made me laugh my ass off. Just like when I was reading my Seagalogy for the first time. (I still score a Seagalmovie I haven’t seen sometimes and view with the book on my lap -reading the firt half of corresponding chapter after having watched the first half of the dvd, then looking on and afterward reading the rest of the chapter. No kidding.)

    Great review Vern.

    I liked the Keeper. Thought al lot of the acting was wooden and some of the sound (and dialogue) was cheap sounding (but when Seagal sniffles -outside, in bushes- in medium close-up the sound is crisp). But I liked it. Reminded me of the better of the Golden Era a little.

  39. I didn’t know this web sight is part of Mattel’s demographic outreach.

  40. Ramon Battershall

    February 1st, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Why does he call someone ‘white boy’ at one point- have I missed something vital here

  41. Last night I discovered why I hadn’t bothered to revisit EXECUTIVE DECISION for 21 years until now – it’s as boring as a dogs arse. I guess it was a big thing at the time for Seagal to get Deep-Blue-Sea’d in the first 45 minutes, but I really liked the early parts of the film, specifically the tension between Seagals Colonel and Russell’s yuppie whatever-he-was. The priceless look on Seagals face as he swaggers past a bow-tied tuxedo’d Russell in the hallway of the Pentagon made me wish the movie kept that relationship going. It could have been huge fun.

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