The Keeper (2009)

Keeper DVD CoverThroughout human history Man has sought to refine existence to set of easy to remember basic immutable laws. First of course were the Ten Commandments laid down by Charlton Heston that covered such basics as not killing, stealing, or taking away our Second Amendment rights.

Then there were the 8 Simple Rules for Dating Teenage Daughters that comedian/philosopher John Ritter set forth in his weekly televised sermons before promptly dropping dead, no doubt the stress of having a hot daughter just too much, even with his rules being so simple.

But it is no surprise that it took acting giant (literally – check out his chins in this movie!) Steven Seagal to cut all these Byzantine guidelines on living your life down to just the essentials.

Much like when Heston came down from the mountain with his stone tablets, Steve lumbers out of his limo to reluctantly wade into a domestic dispute between a couple of thugs and his limo driver’s sexy cousin. Steve calmly assess the situation (in fact Steve is so placid about everything that transpires in The Keeper that he’s not so much zen-like as zombie-like) and unleashes the only two rules he lives by. No, one of them is not to always dress in black because black is slimming. Stop being a jerk!

His first rule is that whenever someone pulls a knife on him, he kills them. Which makes sense. If you’re that stupid, Charles Darwin says you don’t deserve to live. If you had any brains and were trying to do Steve harm, why not just poison the local all you can eat buffet? His second rule is that he doesn’t kill children. That sounds good, too. But what if a child pulls a knife on Steve? Does such an obvious and unsolvable conflict cause Steve’s surely enlarged and atrophied heart to overheat and malfunction?

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Steve may be a puffy low budget action movie god, but he isn’t prone to pointlessly complicating our belief structure. Much like the other gods we sometimes worship on Sundays and a couple of holidays per year, he is a god who believes in a thug’s free will!

So it is that when confronted by a moron with a knife, he first advises said moron of the rules and asks said moron which rule he wants Steve to follow! It’s like he’s giving you a choice to be a good person! Can Steve help it though that this guy cusses him out and tries to cut him forcing Steve to destroy his arm and slap him to the ground? It’s like that guy made the choice for both him and Steve! How freaking selfish!

Though Steve doesn’t really get to put his rules to use any more in the film (thankfully there’s no need to as there’s no children in the movie and most everyone else pulls a gun on Steve which leads to instant annihilation by Steve), he sort of adds a codicil to his rules at the end of the film when a bad guy tries to surrender and Steve says, “after you’re dead, maybe.”

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Steve’s crooked partner probably already knew this which is why he just tried to smother Steve with a pillow while Steve was at the hospital recovering from the gunshot wounds inflicted by his partner instead of trying to talk it out! (It goes without saying that Steve shot the guy twice with a gun he stole from his niece while he pretended to be unconscious!)

Beyond the admittedly great life lessons though, The Keeper consistently fails to live up to its title. Steve is a former cop who goes to work in San Antonio to bodyguard the hot daughter of his old buddy. She’s mixed up with a scumbag boxer and her father’s old business parter keeps trying to kidnap her in order to force him to hand over land which contains valuable uranium deposits.

The usual ingredients make up this Big Steve Crap Casserole (now with 20% less action!), with the standard issue car chases, dull shoot outs, tightly shot fight scenes to disguise how immobile Steve is, the overlong and ultimately pointless prologue when he was still a cop (it would have been quicker and more effective for Steve to be haunted as he has flashbacks), and several scenes of Steve either babysitting the woman at a nightclub or obsessively cleaning his gun collection.

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Certainly, Steve is a unique talent in film, somehow appearing to be at once the most bored, insincere performer you’ll ever watch mumble his lines with varying vague accents while paradoxically projecting a hilariously arrogant aura that everything he says and does is the most important and honest thing ever put on screen! The bowing, smirking, hugging, and referring to friends as “bruthuh” comes across not with any warmth or emotion, but like a sneering joke that he mysteriously managed to get another movie released, despite the last twenty or so being the same exact pile of post-binge poop.

Still, he does freshen up his usual all black wardrobe with a white cowboy hat and there’s a borderline icky vibe going on with the flirting between him and the young woman he’s protecting. Add in the totally superfluous bit about him maybe being addicted to pain pills and a montage of him rehabbing his shoulder by throwing daggers and there’s enough to justify for at least the most hopelessly addicted of us Seagalaholics to give it a passing look.

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