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Maximum Conviction

Soldier of Vengeance
Maximum Conviction
When former black ops operative Tom Steele and his partner Manning are assigned to decommission an old prison, they must oversee the arrival of two mysterious female prisoners. Before long, an elite force of mercenaries assault the prison in search of the new arrivals. As the true identities of the women are revealed, Steele realizes he's caught in the middle of something far bigger than he had imagined.


I'm about as jaded of a Seagal fan as any. Everything he made up until **ON DEADLY GROUND** constitute a bevy of action classics and even that movie was at least hilariously bad. Unfortunately, most of his work since has been utterly lackluster and meaninglessly repetitive once he fell off a cliff into straight-to-DVD movie purgatory. A couple of them have been a little more ambitious, say **MERCENARY FOR JUSTICE** for instance where they coughed up enough money to spring for some tank battles, but unfortunately the extra cash couldn't salvage an otherwise dismal and predictable B-movie with cookie-cutter story and atrocious acting. These films have gotten comical piling up with snappy covers of a heavily photoshopped Seagal holding a gun, but with nothing inside but boredom, tedium, and incompetence the likes of which would cause even Ted V. Mikels to blush. After getting screwed on enough of these, I've given up. And I can't be the only one. Who watches these anymore anyway? Who, after decades of this, still falls for this cynical gimmickry? Enough, apparently to give this man a continuing career. However when I first heard the plot summary for this movie, I have to admit I was at least a little excited. Made in the wake of **THE EXPENDABLES**, it looked like there was some effort made to get the testosterone going in Seagal's career again, and maybe even a little nostalgia to his **UNDER SIEGE** days. This time we have terrorists (led by Michael Pare) taking over a prison and they let the prisoners out. Seagal must battle both the prisoners AND the terrorists in order the restore order. Sounds good right? How could they find a way to mess this one up? Well the catch is, this movie comes out of Canada which is like a factory for soulless straight-to-video action movies, and it feels very much like a product with so many corners cut that it's barely a movie. They didn't spring for any more than 4 actors to play prisoners, writing in some throwaway line that the prison is being closed down or something. LAME! Where was Seagal fighting his way through a crowded mess room? Budget-wise, the script must have been the cheapest part, but they didn't even put effort into that. Where was something interesting done with the concept? Why are we watching some team of young nobodies do all the dirty work while Seagal wanders around doing very little to affect the rest of the plot? It's feeling like **HALF PAST DEAD** was closer to my expectations than what I got from this movie, and that's not a good thing. Seagal wears so much ridiculous body armor that he looks like a shambling tortoise and none of his fights exhibit a shred of realism or suspense. I have to give the crew credit though for not dubbing Seagal (leaving him to mumble in some bizarre semi-Cajun accent) and he doesn't look too obviously doubled for the most part. Michael Pare and Steve Austin were apparently great sports about the whole thing and put some physical and emotional effort into their performances. Also, we do get a little bit of a decent gunfight between Seagal and Pare near the end and some O.K. fisticuffs between a few of the side characters. It's just too little too late though and not really what we paid to see. Still I have to say it's better than 90% of the stuff he's done since **MACHETE**. I just wish this movie wasn't so deadeningly dull. If you are still curious, beware the droning canned musical score, which does not let up even for a minute over the course of the film, draining it of any potential excitement it could have had otherwise!

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