With Code of Honor, it’s clear that we’ve entered a new era of interchangeably low rent Steven Seagal action films – the era of sniper bifocals. Recent Seagal films such as A Good Man and Absolution have seen the rotund rageaholic sporting eyeglasses, presumably because they are necessary to ensure the perfect head shot at whatever scumbag from a no name Eastern European he’s feuding with. Of course paired with hair that looks like it was either spray painted on or was a wig from an after Halloween clearance sale and the silly “special forces in Afghanistan” scarf, it just looks like your bloated up grandpa made the ill advised decision that he was going to the paintball range in full costume.
But if Steve wasn’t so committed to playing another former special ops guy who won all the medals, but could never look the other way when some douche was killing the wrong folks (like his freaking family!), how we could take him seriously when he’s debating one of his former commandos and ex best friend about how when Steve was ghosting pimps and blowing up strip clubs, he was only upholding the oath he took to defend the Constitution from enemies, both foreign and domestic!
But who is Steve to judge who deserves to have him go all Judge Dredd on them? Steve wasn’t just drawing pictures of bad ass guns and AC/DC logos in his high school government class because he acknowledges it’s the judges, juries and military tribunals who have to decide. He quickly adds though somebody has to start somehow trying to make a difference, as if he was just pitching in to help an overworked system and anyone who questioned him just wasn’t that civic minded.
Craig Sheffer, who by now probably can’t even believe it himself that he once starred with Brad Pitt in Robert Redford’s A River Runs Through It, plays Major Porter, Seagal’s old special ops pal and finds himself on the receiving end of one the ugliest verbal beat downs Seagal has ever delivered after he question’s Seagal’s morality.
It involves Seagal running down a laundry list of Porter’s failures in life and includes Seagal saying that Porter “fucked everything that moved, foreign and domestic!” When Seagal finished and got up to leave, telling Porter he put a bomb under Porter’s chair, I was like “why bother Steven? You already blew his soul up!” (That it turned out Seagal was lying about the bomb reminds us all why we anxiously await every new Seagal movie!)
The story is at once a standard Seagal movie plot and also doesn’t make any sense. At least until the end when a twist is revealed explaining things thus setting this apart from most Seagal movies of the last quarter century. Then it made sense for about five minutes until in true Seagal fashion, events transpired which called into question whether the twist really happened at all!
Seagal is Colonel Sikes and his wife and child were killed in a random drive by shooting while he was shooting random dudes in the Middle East. Now he’s back in the city killing all the bad guys he can find! Porter is the FBI agent tracking him down. No explanation is offered as to why he’s after Sikes by himself or how he keeps tracking down a guy who no one can catch.
Additionally, much is made about Porter protecting a stripper from Sikes who may have been a witness in the strip club bombing. That never made any sense since there was no indication that Sikes even knew she was a possible witness. Plus, he’s not that concerned about witnesses anyway since he just leaves the strip club in broad daylight and triggers the blast while walking away. And does anyone really think Seagal is going to kill a stripper who has a little kid? There must be like six Seagal movies where he saves that exact character!
The hapless local cops are represented by Louis Mandylor and he’s reduced to cussing out Porter and a cliched tabloid reporter and wandering from crime scene to scene before finally piecing everything together in one revealing montage. In a normally competent film, once the truth is revealed through the montage, it would be clear that what the cop realized is true. Code of Honor though acts like it’s too dumb to understand the implications of the twist’s reveal and continues to try and have things both ways.
Interestingly, people who don’t watch many Seagal movies may be able figure out what’s going on better than us Seagal film fetish guys. We’re used to only getting about 15 minutes of Seagal being minimally involved while a normal viewer may actually question why Seagal is barely in the movie.
Code of Honor looks like the cheap trash it is (bargain digital effects hamper every gunshot wound, scenes of news conferences are sparsely attended, the forgettable Salt Lake City locations just scream “bland low budget tax incentive decision”) and feels like a step back from the serviceable Absolution and A Good Man, but as usual, it’s Seagal humorlessly delivering his absurd dialogue that will keep us coming back in about a month when his next movie probably comes out. Of course, the weird twist in the film is reason enough to at least consider watching it. Or is it?!?
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