Exit Wounds
dir Andrzej Bartowiak
scr Ed Horowitz, Dan Cracchiolo
with Steven Seagal, DMX, Isaiah Washington, Anthony Anderson, Tom Arnold, Michael Jai White, Bill Duke, Jill Hennessey, Bruce McGill, David Vadim, Eva Mendez, Matt Taylor
release US 14.Mar.01; UK 27.Apr.01
Warners 01/US 1h43 2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
This is the cinematic equivalent of one of those Chicks & Bikes magazines. And with producer Joel Silver (the explosion king) and star Seagal (even less facial dexterity than Arnie), what else did we expect? The surprising thing is that it's so preposterously awful that it's actually quite good fun. Seagal is a renegade Detroit cop whose excessive force gets him demoted to an innercity precinct and an anger management seminar, where he meets TV host Tom Arnold, who is grafted ludicrously into the main plot about a high-powered drug dealer (DMX), his right-hand man (Anderson, aka the comic relief) and lots of nefarious police corruption.

But who cares about any of this when each car on screen, including those parked innocuously along the streets, explodes in flames within seconds. The action sequences are so finely detailed that they defy every law of logic or authenticity, yet they're oddly compelling as we gasp at the complexity of it all. The entire story seems to exist in a parallel Joel Silver universe filled with flashy cars (not one of which is worth under $75k), strip clubs, oiled musclemen and a massive action scene every three minutes. It's mass destruction on all sides, with the resolutely stonefaced Seagal at the centre of the storm (the other actors are quite decent in utterly inexplicable roles). It's all just so mind-bogglingly goofy, gruesome and gratuitous that ... well, I had a great time watching it. There's a solid (unintentional) belly laugh in every scene. Seagal is a much worse actor that I ever imagined he could be (I have heretofore managed to avoid all of his cliche-titled films--what a filmography!). And Bartowiak (Romeo Must Die) is a very good action director in need of a good story, a proper actor ... and a healthy distance from Mr Silver.
themes, grisly violence, language cert 18 23.Apr.01

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2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall