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Three Action Films from Sony

Attack Force (March 12/07)

Well, it was inevitable; Steven Seagal has finally made a film that's flat-out unwatchable. He's been in some terrible movies in the past, certainly - Into the Sun, Submerged, and Out for a Kill to name a few - but Attack Force marks the first time that the portly action star has foisted such an egregiously shoddy product on his few remaining fans. To be fair, Seagal is the least of the film's problems; the actor delivers a performance that's as apathetic and colorless as one might've expected (there's little doubt that he stopped trying long ago). No, the lion's share of blame for Attack Force's colossal failure belongs to the producers and their behind-the-scenes efforts to modify the film's original storyline (which evidently had something to do with aliens). The plot, which now revolves around a superdrug that turns those who consume it into unstoppable killing machines, is virtually impossible to follow, with the end result a film that's nothing short of a baffling ordeal - to the extent that even the most ardent Seagal fan would be hard-pressed to sit through this monstrosity of a production in just one sitting (for the record, it took me almost a dozen).

no stars out of

Flight Of Fury (April 9/07)

Though not quite as terrible as Attack Force, Flight Of Fury is nevertheless a bland, thoroughly needless actioner that's almost entirely lacking in positive attributes (that star Steven Seagal delivers a typically lifeless performance certainly doesn't help matters). The film casts the increasingly chunky Seagal as John Sands, a hotshot pilot whose latest mission takes him to Afghanistan - where he is to recover a stolen stealth bomber and do away with a nasty band of terrorists. Incompetently directed by Michael Keusch (relentlessly jittery camerawork does not an action film make), Flight Of Fury boasts a single sequence that almost harkens back to Seagal's early-'90s heyday (his character single-handedly thwarts a convenience-story robbery) - although, not surprisingly, Keusch manages to bungle the short scene with his overly frenetic filmmaking choices. The laughable silly screenplay by Seagal and Joe Halpin contains some seriously absurd bits of dialogue - including, but not limited to, this choice bit spouted by Seagal's character after encountering a lady friend: "Right about now I'd love to be doing something fun with you, but shit's a little sideways around here." And although there are some unintentional laughs to be had thanks to Keusch's use of stock footage (grainy stock footage, at that) during the dogfight sequences, Flight Of Fury remains a hopelessly uninteresting and exceedingly pointless entry within the straight-to-video action genre.

out of

Striking Range (January 8/07)

The straight-to-video actioner, having already claimed the careers of Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and Wesley Snipes, has moved on to Lou Diamond Phillips, and there's little doubt that Striking Range is as bad as (or even worse than) any of the above performers' past efforts from the last several years. Phillips stars as Eugene Vasher, a grizzled soldier-for-hire whose latest assignment brings him face-to-face with a deadly adversary (played by erstwhile action star Jeff Speakman). Written and directed by Daniel Millican, Striking Range possesses an unmistakable air of ineptness that's evident right from the get-go; the film opens with a completely baffling sequence in which Vasher and his associates wisecrack their way through a seemingly intense hostage situation (it's impossible not to initially wonder if the bad guys are actually in on the whole thing, given the light-hearted way the protagonists treat the situation). Millican's utterly inauthentic dialogue is exacerbated by the uniformly perfunctory performances, while the film's lack of violence is unforgivable (at the very least, a movie of this sort should be filled with wall-to-wall and completely random instances of bloodshed). Striking Range is nothing less than a total waste of time, and although the cast does consist of several familiar faces, the incompetence with which the film has been imbued ultimately ensures that even the most forgiving viewer will find little here worth embracing.

out of

About the DVDs: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents each of these titles with anamorphically-enhanced transfers, and although both Attack Force and Flight Of Fury are devoid of bonus features, Striking Range comes equipped with a commentary track (trailers for various other Sony films are available on all three discs).
© David Nusair