Black Dawn (2005)

Jonathan Cold is back! Presumed dead after his last deadly mission, Cold proves that when you’re the best in the business, and your business is doing dirty deeds for the Company, staying dead is sometimes even harder than saving the world!

I must confess that when I heard Cold was back in the game, two thoughts raced through my mind. The first one was that I couldn’t wait to see Cold use his unique talents to bust open whatever international terrorist scheme some third world dirtbag was attempting to unleash. The second thought I had was, “who the hell is Jonathan Cold?”

The answer to that question can be found in a little story I’m fond of calling “A Tale of Two Seagals.” The first Seagal was all about a guy whupping up on trash with his super hot Aikido moves. Above the Law, Hard to Kill, and Marked For Death are unquestionably what passes for the Seagal classics of the big screen. The Under Siege movies came next (with a turd or two sprinkled in along the way) followed up by the ill-advised teaming with one of those Wayans brothers in The Glimmer Man. Just to make sure we knew the end of Seagal 1.0 was finished, he then made a few movies with some rappers.

But never fear Seagalaholics! Seagal 2.0 (later 3XL) fired up immediately thereafter and he and his fans gladly traded big screen stardom in one crappy movie every year or so for three or four mega awesome straight to home video action flicks per year!

With such a prodigious output, it was inevitable that Steve would at the very least accidentally make a sequel somewhere in there. And that’s just what Black Dawn is!

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After the apparent worldwide, but certainly obscure, success of The Foreigner, the opportunity to not have to think up a new name for Seagal’s character in one of his 2005 movies along with having a ready made back story and a flashback gunfight to edit into the new film for a cheap action sequence was just too good not to pass up!

But if you think that Seagal is going to use this sequel as an excuse to let his audience down by giving them the same old cruddy action movie, you would be wrong. Or as Seagal might mumble in one of his movies, “dead wrong.”

First of all, the role gave him an opportunity to stretch and by that I mean an opportunity to stretch his three piece suits with his stomach. It’s a thankful change from those weird black quilted floor length jackets he usually favors.

Further testing his acting chops, he also does a lot of scenes sitting down. Checking schematics of a nuclear device at a laptop? Sitting down. Examining mail and making a cell phone call that results in a critical clue to the bad guys’ whereabouts? Relaxing on a couch. Driving the dump truck through town while engaged in a gun battle with the bad guys? He’s riding in the cab, but turns it up a notch by making steering motions!

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And how about flying the helicopter out to sea to dump the nuclear device where it harmlessly detonates in the ocean, its radiation safely contained to the miles and miles of water off the coast of Los Angeles? Sitting in the pilot’s chair, and letting out a sigh of relief that all goes as planned!

To be fair, the stuntmen who are forced wear Seagal wigs do get a mild workout when they crash through a window, or slide around on top of the dump truck, but you can’t expect a superstar like Steve to waste his time doing that when he has an important scene harassing a computer nerd to get some more vital information for something or other. A real action hero always knows when to delegate.

So just what was Cold up to this time around? Beats me! He’s a CIA agent who’s so deep undercover none of the other CIA people knew what he was doing or whose side he was on!

He breaks out a kingpin of crime from prison and gets involved with procuring a nuclear device from a Russian scientist with an eye toward turning around and selling it to some Chechen rebels who want to nuke L.A. They also need to get some plutonium from a CIA agent who is undercover at the local plutonium plant.

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To make sure that Steve doesn’t have to strain himself too much, they team him up with a lady CIA agent whom he mentored years ago. Just for good measure, it turns out that her current CIA boss was behind everything.

I was never real sure why anyone was doing anything or what exactly Seagal’s plan was initially (he had to break his cover to save his protege), but you know those crazy Chechens. Nothing will show their Russian oppressors they mean business like making L.A. a radioactive wasteland.

Of course that made only slightly more sense than the scene at the end of the film where the CIA guy kills the Chechens because it was his idea and he wanted to be the one to set the bomb off, though he had zero reason to do this.

While there is a minimal amount of Seagal martial arts moments (and what there is looks to be purposely poorly photographed – probably so as not to expose Seagal’s secrets to any would-be terrorists watching), lots of people get shot and the dump truck chase scene is a nice demonstration of callous destruction, so it has that going for it.

© 2014 MonsterHunter

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