Fire Down Below Review

by Tim Voon (stirling AT netlink DOT com DOT au)
November 16th, 1997

    A film review by Timothy Voon
    Copyright 1997 Timothy Voon
    2 :-( :-( for a vague whiff of smoke

Cast: Steven Seagal, Marg Helgenberger, Harry Dean Stanton, Kris Kristofferson, Stephen Lang, Levon Helm, Brad Hunt Director: Felix Enriquez Alcala Screenplay: Jeb Stuart and Philip Morton

There is something pristine about Segal and his action heroes who remain virtually invincible in harms way. He will occasionally be cut or stabbed, but you'll never see too much blood on that well chiselled face and solid torso. For some reason blood, dirt, sweat and bruises don't hang well on Segal. Punishing injury is for the die hard Willis, physical damage follows the kick boxing Van Damme, and multiple gun shot wounds riddle after the robotic Swharzenegger. As for Segal it's not his style to let the enemy throw too many close punches, let alone get his expensive clothes dirty. For that reason, I like Segal because he has redefined the meaning of a clean fight.

Unfortunately, there isn't anything unique about "Fire Down Below" that hasn't already traversed down the road of previous Segal action thrillers. He's a special agent once again, with a slick appearance and familiar pony tail; well dressed and diet controlled since his last siting with pot belly in the embarrassing "The Glimmer Man". Once again the hero he creates is perfectly balanced, poetically just and an effortless killer who defeats up to twenty men with guns in any given situation. I have no qualms with this particular style of polished action and safety margin thrills. The real let down for me was how very ordinary this movie turned out.

I do not carry a keen love of pure special effects in movies, but in an action flick, especially in a Segal action flick I would like to see more than a couple of bins explode and objects burn. I would also like to see Segal wearing something outside his usual dark overcoat and leather jackets; especially in a small country town where he is supposed to blend with the natives in order to carry out an investigation. Come on Steven, how about some jeans, a pleat shirt and a cowboy hat? Too risque or just trying to hide weight? You need to dress the part if you want us to believe you have some carpentry skills. Just swinging the hammer in clothing suitable for a "Planet Hollywood" presentation doesn't quite cut the cheese.

On the unusual side of things, Segal has decided to include a love interest for his hero notably absent in his most recent movies. He has strangely chosen a frail, weedy looking creature (Marg Helgenberger) to be the main contender. There is no question that Segal remains the perfect gentleman in his movies and women naturally fall for that sort of a thing. But it becomes hard to swallow when he comes across as a Russian Mafia thug, whilst his love interest is mostly clothed in rags and lives like a hermit. The only thing they have in common is her porch needs fixing, he likes her cooking and they both collect honey. Maybe that's enough for some relationships to work, but there certainly isn't any chemistry under the stove.

So overall I was disappointed by this latest of Segal offerings. I guess in my heart, I still carry that simple wish that he'll get back into whites and rescue another battle cruiser from the claws of terrorists. Somehow rescuing country bumpkins from the jaws of polluting industrialists doesn’t carry the same missed heartbeat of thrill and ride.

Timothy Voon
e-mail: [email protected]

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