Rated R - Running Time: 1:57 - Released 3/16/01

The fact that stuntman Chris Lamon was killed on the set of Exit Wounds is a terrible tragedy. What makes it even more of a shame is that the man was killed making such a second-rate movie. This film, which stars a bored looking Steven Seagal as a good cop fighting the bad cops in a corrupt system, is the most shallow, disposable action fare currently available to the undiscriminating teen boy market. The low-key, heavily physical Seagal, in the kind of role he always has and always will play, is clearly more comfortable shooting, kicking, and breaking stuff than he is interacting with human beings. Of course, no one should ever die making a movie, but Exit Wounds really adds insult to fatality.

Written by the inexperienced team of Ed Horowitz and Richard D'Ovidio, based on the novel by John Westermann, the screenplay for Exit Wounds is so formulaic and trite its a wonder the producers could convince longtime cinematographer Andrzej Bartkowiak (Thirteen Days) to direct it. Bartkowiak's only other directorial effort has been last year's Romeo Must Die, another entry in the kung fu vs. bullets category, and a much better film in many ways. In this case Bartkowiak is hard pressed to bring life off the page. Luckily, the film does have its saving graces, mainly in the form of rap star DMX, convincing in a pivotal role opposite Seagal, and Anthony Anderson, who seems to bring vitality to every role he plays. An unfortunate counterpoint is the presence of Tom Arnold, whose comic style, intended to lighten the film's violent nature, merely seems out of place. It must be said, however, that perhaps the best part of the film is an ad-libbed scene between Anderson and Arnold which appears during the end credits.

Seagal plays Detroit detective Orin Boyd, whose lone-wolf style and disrespect for authority, displayed while single-handedly and superhumanly saving the U.S. vice president from a major assassination attempt, gets him reassigned from the 21st precinct to the 15th, in one of the city's most dangerous neighborhoods. Although under strict orders to toe the line from his new boss, Cmdr. Mulcahy (the Barbie-dollish Jill Hennessy, who does not resemble a cop in any way, shape, or form), Boyd soon begins his usual habit of investigating things he's not assigned to, including the suspicious activity of a local man named Latrell Walker (DMX) and his night club-owning friend T.K. (Anderson). Soon Boyd discovers their connection to a major heroin operation, along with that of his very own colleagues in the Detroit P.D. Working with Mulcahy, his new partner George (Isaiah Washington), and a friend he met at an anger management class (Arnold), Boyd goes to war against a whole bunch of guys who can't shoot as well as he can kick.

If it were left up to Seagal and his writers, this film would be a total flop. But thanks to some supporting performers, it is merely tolerable. **½

Copyright 2001 by John R. McEwen and The Republican

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