When Steven Seagal is berating Luke Goss for not being entirely forthcoming with mission details and says “I was not born on a fucking turnip truck, man. And I was not born at night. I was born in a bright fucking sunny day, man” he appears to be convinced that what he is saying is making sense, despite his dialogue being a jumble of messed up idioms and forced curse words.
And he is also likewise very convincing when during the only stunts he does himself (walking up some stairs), he has to grab the handrail for support. I was never fearful for big Steve’s health during these scenes though because director Keoni Waxman has worked with him enough times (Absolution, A Good Man, The Keeper) to know to call “cut” immediately after each stair.
Seagal can be forgiven if he seems a bit winded going from the first floor to the first floor landing though. Killing Salazar is one of about seven movies starring Seagal that is set to come out in 2016. The only actors who can keep pace with that kind of output usually appear in porn movies! And they have it a lot easier since they aren’t having to wear heavy leather jackets and tactical gear all the time!
But by now Steve is an old hand at juggling innumerable projects sucessfully and wisely chooses scripts that showcase his talents (sitting and mumbling) with just a dash of him standing and waving his arms in the direction of some unfortunate co-star. Killing Salazar wisely uses these requirements to its advantage, limiting Steve to a pair of brief special ops raids at the beginning and end of the movie while the remainder of scenes are him interviewing the Luke Goss character. Goss then tells his story and the movie flashbacks to all the cool action movie stuff he did.
Salazar is the head of an Eastern European cartel and Seagal is a government agent who makes a deal with him to rat all his cronies out. The plan is to fake his death, bring him to the United States and then have him finger all the other bad guys without them knowing since they’ll think he’s dead. This benefits Salazar because it will also keep his wife protected. Goss is a vet who is the new guy on the U.S. Marshal team assigned to go to Romania to bring his body back (they aren’t told he’s alive at this point).
Once in Romania, the marshals meet up with a DEA agent named Darrow. Darrow reveals that Salazar is alive and that he needs the marshals to guard Salazar for 24 hours before he can get the go ahead to transport. As little sense as this makes, what makes even less sense is that Darrow says that instead of securing Salazar at the military base that is literally across the street, they are going to have to do it at a local hotel instead! It’s like Darrow took Seagal’s terrible plan and somehow made it worse!
Salazar’s right hand man Bruno (UFC dude Georges St-Pierre) figures out where Salazar is and after blowing up his wife, leads a team of terrorists to the hotel to kill him. This was an interesting plot twist since the last time we saw Bruno, he was taken into custody during the Seagal-led raid at the beginning of the film. Even more twisty is that he was somehow working with Darrow despite the fact that Darrow was taking $500 million from Salazar to turn him loose! I rapidly gave up trying to keep pace with the film’s shifting allegiances and motivations and just accepted that I must have been born on a fucking turnip truck.
Twenty-first century Steven Seagal films are strange animals in that they never rise and fall on the performance of Steven Seagal. Seagal is going to be Seagal no matter what is happening in the movie. He’ll dress funny, look like death warmed over, and his dialogue will be more entertaining than his fighting. It’s what happening whenever he isn’t around that determines how painful the experience is.
Here, Luke Goss is much better than a throwaway Seagal film deserves. With his wiry presence and intensity (and bald head) I couldn’t help but wonder why he wasn’t the new Transporter instead of that male model from Deadpool.
Killing Salazar is one of those over-complicated movies that is best enjoyed not trying to make sense of any of it. Once the raid on the hotel happens, its features decent nonstop action that only takes a break whenever Steve feels the need to appear.
Goss commands your attention whenever he’s on screen and it isn’t long before you’ll resent the intrusion of Seagal’s fat face whenever the movie has to shift back to the interrogation. You’ll finish the film looking forward to seeing the next Goss movie, not the next Seagal movie when it’s released (probably in about a month).
Perhaps Seagal sensed how awesome Goss was and that’s why he had himself fight Bruno and even allowed himself to be punched by Bruno! (Don’t worry, I think Seagal’s stuntman even shot the scene where he was getting up from the ground because one quit edit later and Seagal was back in his usual upright position, no hint of having just been punched in the head by a MMA legend. Least spoiler ever: Bruno ends up with a knife in his neck!)
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