What a year to have been alive! Everything seems to have worked itself out, everyone is happy, and no one will ever die. Not only that, but a regular cornucopia of great films were bukkaked all over our willing faces in 2016, and you better believe I hunkered down and took all I could get. Problem is there were far too many good flicks to whittle into a top 5 list. So instead, in honor of Trump's favorite action hero and Putin's BFF, I decided to make a list of Steven Seagal's five best movies to come out in 2016 as there's a good chance an executive order will drop any day now decreeing all future films star Seagal. These are all real and I watched all of them. You're welcome.
#5 - Code of Honor
As soon as the Premeire Entertainment logo came up accompanied by 80's hair metal, I knew I was in for something special. Executive Produced by the man himself, Code of Honor follows Colonel Robert Sikes (Seagal), an AWOL soldier turned 'Super Vigilante' (a term that gets repeated upwards of 50 times), cleaning the streets of crime after his wife and son were killed in a drive-by while he was in Afghanistan. If the blood weren't all CGI'd, there'd be gallons of it. Sikes is a one many wrecking ball, taking out the most random assortment of thugs a Craigslist casting call has to offer with pinpoint accuracy. What looks like Seagal shaking a prop gun up and down is actually the precision of an actor who knows his craft. We're told by the authorities that Sikes is a shadow that can blend into any city, which is all the more impressive considering his mahogany spray tan, walrus build, and all black attire (blending in involves removing his scarf and bandanna). Yet that doesn't stop his old protégé William Porter (Craig Sheffer, a Mickey Rourke lookalike who looks like he could use a nap) from being hot on his heels. Then again...maybe they're the same person? This is a film that refuses to hold your hand and give out easy answers. It all culminates in a glorified slap fight/knife ballet that has to be seen to be believed. Shot and performed like a third-rate porno, while substituting gratuitous violence for fucking, Code of Honor is just the kind of in-your-face, genre defying film that appeals to both the art crowd and the masses. See it.
#4 - Sniper: Special Ops
Bradley Cooper? More like Badly Pooper! At least that's what everyone will be saying after watching Sniper: Special Ops, Seagal's answer to American Sniper. There's even an obviously fake baby! Seagal plays Sergeant Jake Chandler, the titular sniper of the film, despite using the weapon only once, during the movie's intro. While on a mission to rescue a kidnapped congressman, Chandler and his ragtag group of soldiers (a healthy mix of bouncer, biker, and male model types) are ambushed by terrorists. Our soldiers retreat, leaving Chandler and his injured spotter behind enemy lines. I can only imagine how excited Seagal got when he read this in the script, as it gives him the excuse to sit in a chair for the majority of the movie. The few times he is in motion, he leisurely strolls through the streets, despite, you know, being in a goddamn war zone. I'm fairly certain no running is a stipulation in his contract. No walking up and down stairs definitely is as, I shit you not, a stunt double covers that task every time. Anyway, the majority of the movie is spent on Chandler's fellow soldiers figuring out how to rescue him. There's also a lady war photographer that joins them who ends up killing a lot more dudes than taking photos. She adds nothing to the plot, but she's attractive and we see her boobs at one point, so I guess that's what they were going for. The climactic rescue mission is action packed, using the best stock footage explosions money can buy. Also, Seagal wears sunglasses the entire film just so he can dramatically remove them for the last line of the movie. This the closest cinema has ever come to capturing the horrors of war, in that it is hell to watch, somehow making an hour and a half feel like forever. An impressive feat. Five stars!
#3 - The Perfect Weapon
Our old pal Stevey does sci-fi, as if there weren't enough reasons to fear for the future. Set in 'America 2029', Seagal plays The Director, the supreme leader of a future where any opposition to his rule is suppressed by superhuman assassins. The best of these assassins is a bald guy named Condor (Johnny Messner, proud owner of the greatest headshot photo on IMDb), who begins to question murdering people all the time when he succumbs to what poet laureate Huey Lewis would refer to as 'the power of love'. Seagal's screentime amounts to a glorified cameo, save for the holographic billboards of him throughout the city with the word 'INTELLIGENCE' hilariously plastered above him in all caps. And I almost forgot the flashback where a young Seagal's face is CGI'd onto a physically fit body. It feels good to know the majority of the budget was probably spent on this scene just so Seagal could relive his glory days. The bulk of the film follows Condor on his quest for freedom, and it's like watching someone shittily play a Hitman video game for an hour and a half. I spent most of the time on my phone enjoying animal gifs and looking up Seagal fun facts. For example, did you know during a "private audition" for Under Siege 2, Seagal made Jenny McCarthy strip naked, despite there being no nudity in the film? Or that he once drove a tank through a suspect's house for his reality show Lawman, euthanizing all 115 chickens in the man's alleged cock fighting ring as well as killing his puppy? What a guy! The Perfect Weapon is worth slogging through for it's twist ending, in which its revealed Seagal's character has an identical twin who swears to avenge his wounded brother before killing him with a katana. Do I smell a sequel? Or is that just a musty Seagal fart? Either way, more please!
#2 - End of a Gun
The IMDb synopsis for this film states that Seagal plays a mall security guard, so you can imagine my immense disappointment when that turned out to not be the case. Instead, Seagal plays Michael Decker, an ex-DEA agent living in an alternate reality version of Paris where everyone speaks broken English. One night he happens upon a man slapping around his girlfriend and decides to get involved, breaking the guys arm twelve times to the same sound effect before shooting him in the head. Justice is served. Except it turns out the guy was a drug dealer and his now police impounded vehicle has $2 million in the trunk. The abused woman, Lisa, offers to split the money with Decker if he can steal it back. She also implies she'll fuck him. The heist is on! Things get even more convoluted when drug kingpin Mr. Vargas (a man with the look of Tommy Wiseau and the voice of Mr. Moviefone) sends his goons to collect the money. I'm honestly not sure what I watched. Decker is supposed to be the embodiment of cool, but played by Seagal he comes off as a cartoon pimp, dropping an endless string of mo'fuckas, fa shos, bitches, and hoes. It's cringy. The heist centerpiece involves Seagal walking his way up a parking garage to Ocean's Eleven-esque music, beating up two guards in sped up footage so he looks agile, grabbing the money, and walking back down. That's it. Capping off this lamest of heists, he delivers the $2 million to Lisa and says, "Now you owe me some good pussy," to which I then proceeded to vomit. In the end Lisa gets captured by Mr. Vargas' goons, cause of course. Seagal rescues her and kills the lot of them as he's prone to do, when Lisa pulls a gun on him and demands all of the money. So he shoots her in the head and the movie comes full circle. Packed to the brim with the kind of old timey sexism that'll help make America great again, End of a Gun is an action throwback that'll have you saying they don't make 'em like they used to. And with good reason!
#1 - The Asian Connection
Seagal steps out of the spotlight to play the big bad in this one, and boy is it a thing that happens. He plays Gan Sirankiri, a Cambodian crime lord who rocks a du-rag, gold medallian, and black kung fu ensemble. He even attempts an accent for all of the opening scene before realizing he is not up to the task, abandoning it the rest of the film. The plot involves some ferret faced young hotshot named Jack (John Edward Lee, who hopefully finds a different calling in life) robbing banks for his cigarette saleswoman girlfriend, so they can one day live on an island together like they always talked about. For the love of God, someone please make this madness end. Anyway, Jack ends up robbing a bank that has Gan Sirankiri's money and is now on the run for his life and what not. Who cares. We're here for Seagal dammit, and that's what we're gonna talk about. His scenes are so disconnected from the rest of the film, I began to wonder if they were stitched in from an entirely different movie or if they happened to be home videos of his vacation in Phnom Penh. When he's not meeting up with his evil council of actual Cambodians, he's seen eating meals, practicing martial arts, and waxing philosophical with a silent young asian woman who I assume is an escort. AND THESE SCENES ARE FASCINATING. None of this could have been scripted, it's too bizarre and pure. I felt like I was watching Seagal's own version of Before Sunrise, and I desperately wished it was the entire film. After one scene of boring bullshit with Jack, we're dropped mid-conversation into a fish dinner between Seagal and his lady where he mumbles his way through this profound non sequitur: "They way I look at it, it's like this fish. People saying I shouldn't eat the fish because the fish, ya know, is an important sentient being. And it's true." I have no idea what he's talking about, but I feel like I'm seeing the real Seagal for the first time, and for that this film gets my highest recommendation. Also Black Dynamite himself, Michael Jae White, makes an appearance as a character named Greedy Greg. So there's that.
Well we did it. We reached the end. And if we can make it through these films together we can make it through anything, including a similarly bloated, sexist, egomaniacal spray-tan leading one of the most powerful countries in the world. Bring on 2017. As a reward for powering through, here's a clip of Seagal dancing in Chechnya, putting in more effort than he did into all of these films combined.
Honorable Mentions (or the Seagal movies I didn't watch because I couldn't take it anymore): Killing Salazar, Contract to Kill