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

Maximum Conviction

MAXIMUM CONVICTION is one of these powerful action team ups we get now in a post-EXPENDABLES world. Second-billed Steve Austin is probly the most reliable DTV guy after Scott Adkins, with a bunch of pretty good ones under his belt (DAMAGE, RECOIL, HUNT TO KILL) and a durable persona as seen-it-all-skullcrusher-with-an-inherent-sense-of-decency. Headliner Steven Seagal is… a guy I wrote a book about.

To tell you the truth I didn’t have alot of faith in him for this one. He seems to have grown comfortable as boss man on his ensemble TV show and lost the DTV eye of the tiger he had a few years ago when he did the historic URBAN JUSTICE/PISTOL WHIPPED one-two punch. His recent efforts (although some might not call them efforts) have been worthwhile for my deep Seagalogical analysis, but not too inspiring as works of entertainment. And the trailer for this looked pretty crappy, I thought.


The good news is that Seagal and Austin play buddies on the same team, the “operations genius” and the “weapons expert, a bulldozer on the ground,” respectively. The bad news is that in their first scene together they obviously shot separately with back-of-the-head doubles for each other. They’re security contractors hired to decommission a “black site” military prison, but they can’t leave until they get six prisoners transferred out of there, plus there’s this problem with a garbage truck not working. Looks like it’s gonna be a long night.

Now, if you were using a garbage truck to sneak soldiers into a prison to extract a prisoner, would you create a logo that says “Troy Disposal Company” with a picture of a Trojan horse? Because personally I wouldn’t, but these guys got balls, and since Stone Cold doesn’t catch on I guess we can’t sweat the technique. Suddenly Michael Pare is inside leading a team of heavily armed, highly trained mercenaries trying to get the two female prisoners Cross (Seagal) brought in. Luckily Cross already found a secret code that said something was going down so he went to a bar and got a bunch of guys.

So it’s kind of a low rent DIE HARD, or dare I say UNDER SIEGE type of situation where they’re in the enclosed space of the prison sneaking around shooting guys, getting in fights. Cross and Manning (Austin) are separated for most of the movie, it’s actually kind of a less extreme version of what Seagal did in my least favorite of his movies, AGAINST THE DARK. There are long stretches where he’s not on screen at all, and we just gotta assume he’s walking around carefully pointing his gun in all directions, ready to shoot in short controlled bursts or do some cool military hand signals at any moment. So this isn’t as much a team-up as a way for two full-timers to work part time. Shoot half a movie, go see their kids.

Austin gets more action, for example a kitchen fight where he lights a guy on fire and dumps boiling water on a guy. He gets shanghaied by a woman and says “Well shit, that’s my kinda woman.” He gets to impale a guy on weight lifting equipment, say a line almost worthy of Arnold and then exit in triumphant slo-mo.

Seagal does get a few moments. He performs a painful arm-snapping like in the old days and then asks the guy, “Did that hurt? You fuckin pussy.” He gets to talk in his usual way, with alot of “Y’hear?” and “We cool?” and “All right.” I like the part where he’s outnumbered but he tells Pare, “It ain’t the amount, it’s the skill. The skill the guy’s got, that’s what it is.”

There are two unfulfilled promises. One, Cross knows there’s a possibility that one of the female prisoners is with the attackers, and he tells her that if he finds out she is he’s going to kill her. That would be unusual for him to kill a woman. Doesn’t happen. The second one is an out of control prisoner in a pretty good pre-Trojan horse scene. Seagal beats the shit out of the guy and the guy threatens to get him later. Sure enough the guy gets released from his cell during the mayhem… and attacks the women. Never sees Cross again.

Pare is a good villain. He has kind of a Tom Berenger thing going these days, and honestly it’s rare that the lead villain in one of these has as much screen presence as him. For a while he just stands around giving commands, but at the end he has a good showdown with Cross that of course includes the dialogue “We got alot in common, you and I. Special forces, black ops, CIA…” He makes a good speech.

Cross says that he was never in special forces, he was a marine. That’s an uncommon one for Seagal characters, specifically denying being in special forces. He seems to come alive in this scene, getting to throw in the Seagalogical shit he likes. He says, “You talk about being a warrior. How does a warrior break his word of honor?” At the end he has some money that he says he’s gonna donate half to St. Jude’s of Memphis (apparently one of the children’s hospitals Seagal visits and donates to).

Pare makes reference to the story of the scorpion and the frog. He doesn’t say, “Did you see that movie DRIVE?” but he doesn’t really explain the story so they must know it’s in that movie and that’s why they expect us to know it. Unless they somehow know we saw WRONG TURN AT TAHOE.

I have to say I’m a little confused here because in this Seagal plays “Cross,” but I also recently saw THE BOURNE LEGACY, where Jeremy Renner plays “Aaron Cross,” and I want to see that movie ALEX CROSS where Tyler Perry plays “Alex Cross,” and I had a screener for another movie I didn’t watch called CROSS but I just looked it up and Brian Austin Green doesn’t play a Cross in that, he just owns a magic cross. Still, I guess the Cross surname is pretty big this season, huh? Later on when you see a movie with a Cross in it you’re gonna think, “jeez, this is such a 2012 throwback.”

The director is Keoni Waxman, who did the competent Seagal films THE KEEPER, A DANGEROUS MAN and many episodes of True Justice. He also did Austin’s HUNT TO KILL, which I’d guess is how this casting happened. Writer Richard Beattie has done some Shannon Tweed movies and shit: COLD SWEAT, NO CONTEST II, also PROM NIGHT IV and some True Justice. Filmatistically MAXIMUM CONVICTION is pretty weak, with the camera wagging around handheld during some of the fights, computer bleeping on the credits and titles, and the annoying innovation of Security Cam Avid Farts.

But like I said I had low expectations, and although obviously I’d like to see better from these two titans of DTV action I honestly thought it would be alot worse. You get a small sampler of their appeal. It’s watchable enough.


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 Monday, December 17th, 2012 at 1:34 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.

13 Responses to “Maximum Conviction”

  1. I wasn’t really impressed much by this, nor cared for it much either. However, I wasn’t expecting too much going in, so it wasn’t a complete letdown.

  2. That Alex Cross movie isn’t very good. I liked those old Morgan Freeman ones, but that Medea guy isn’t that hot when not playing a crazy old lady. I did like that guy from Lost, though. He really tried.

    I see the Pop-Lit adaptations/reboots are becoming quite popular (as well as the name + surname titles): Alex Cross, Jack Reacher, Jack Ryan.

    Hollywood and their pre-planned trends.

  3. Speaking of not-very-good, jeez, that BOURNE AGAIN movie might have been the most unnecessary, tone-deaf mess I sat through this year, and that’s no easy feat in such a weak year for movies. It made the TOTAL RECALL RECALL look good in comparison.

  4. I kind of like the idea of Seagal moving into the role of grizzled mentor, which apparently is what he’s doing with his TV show. Still, it would be interesting to see him try this approach in his movies more often.

  5. Who let the hooker in?

  6. Based on the casting alone this film should be great, but I am unfortunately not surprised that it is watchable at best. I still plan on checking it out, but I am not going to make it a priority.

  7. I got a soft spot for Michael Pare. MOON 44 rocked my world back before I could know better; proto Emmerich doing Ridley Scott with a healthy dose of James Cameron for a cool-looking movie about . . . space mining? Space robots? Space corporations? Malcolm McDowell . . . in space, overseeing a prison rape that you don’t see coming until well into the second act?

    Yes. Something tells me present day Bad Seed would be less charitable on 44 than 15 year-old Bad Seed, who had this on permanent rotation along with HARDWARE and SPLIT SECOND (only someone from Colorado could be that into the industrial; the acne medicine may of had something to do with it too). Still, it made me seek out Pare’s other flicks, and I still get a kick out of STREETS OF FIRE and . . . well, that one was good.

    P.S. fun fact for you STARGATE and ID4 fans; Emmerich met Dean Devlin on 44, back when the kid was a scrappy actor looking for a break. So if nothing else Moon 44 gave UNIVERSAL SOLDIER. That has to count for something, right? Right?

  8. This movie kinda reminded me of HALF PAST DEAD, one of my favorite guilty pleasure movies, it’s a shame that it’s not as good. Seagal aging into the fat, grizzled old timer is good in my opinion, he could become an American Ray Winstone.

  9. Seagal: “Look at you, man. You’re dead. Money can’t buy life. Money can’t buy order. You ain’t got shit. I don’t know what’s wrong with you, man. Now you’re dead.”

    Seagal’s last victim: {*painful squirming*} “Ah, jeez!”

    Seagal: “You talk about being a warrior. How does a warrior break his word of honor?”

    victim: “You know the story about the scorpion and the frog?”

    Seagal: “Yeah.”

    victim: “Well that’s me. I’m the fuckin’ bad guy!”

    Seagal: “Yeah. And I’m the good guy.”

    {*violence*}

    /cut/

    Seagal: {*terrible Louisiana bayou accent*}

    /fin/

    *******************************************************

    I liked this one. Seagal breaks several bones. Gruesomely.

    The real potential breakout semi-star of MAXIMUM CONVICTION is Bren Foster, who does a Boyka-esque flip kick & a couple of grappling maneuvers and displays a flash of martial artistry that could be a sign of good things to come.

    He could totally hang with Scott Adkins one-on-one for maybe 30 seconds as Disposable Villain #2 and/or #3 in N*NJA DEUCE. You know, like, he could be a lower-budget equivalent of one of the bad guys from the pen-climactic rooftop scene of WHO AM I?.

  10. I was just glad to finally see another full blown action movie starring Seagal.As usual trying to make sense of it all will give you a headache but that’s how I like them best.Boht Seagal and Austin have a few good scenes.Keep’m coming as far as I’m concerned.

  11. I wasn’t sure where to put this one out, but it’s certainly curious:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/02/10/entertainment-us-usa-arizona-seagal-idUSBRE91901J20130210

    Vern (in Seagalogy) made mention of this one occasion (early/mid 90’s) when Seagal once addressed an audience of kids at the private school his own children attended, and took the stage and made a few curt remarks to the effect of “Listen to your parents, stay in school, and don’t do drugs”, and that was IT. This new event would seem to be a far cry from those days. Good for him.

  12. hey Vern, I just made an interesting discovery, Dean Redman, who plays “Jones” in this movie also voiced the character “Dutch” in the anime Black Lagoon

    it’s like our two interests colliding into one!

  13. Surely Pare’s taunt that Seagal is “outmanned and outgunned” has to be a reference to the classic speech from HARD TO KILL, right?

    Seagal’s answer,
    “It ain’t the amount, it’s the skill, the skill a guy’s got, that’s what it is,” curiously makes no mention of superior attitude, so maybe he’s grown more jaded in his old age. It ain’t about numbers, guns, or attitude, it’s just about skill. On the other hand, he sounds like he’s trying to convince himself with that line, so maybe he’s still trying to figure it out.

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