Pistol Whipped (2008)
Pistol Whipped (2008)

Genre: Action Running Time: 1 hr. 40 min.

Release Date: March 4th, 2008 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Roel Reine Actors: Steven Seagal, Paul Calderon, Lance Henriksen, Mark Elliot Wilson, Lydia Grace Jordan, Arthur Nascarella, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Rue DeBona

 


 

“P

istol Whipped” is typical, Steven Seagal straight-to-DVD fodder, not unlike his previous efforts in “Urban Justice,” “Flight of Fury,” “Attack Force,” “Shadow Man,” “Mercenary for Justice,” and too many more to list. Especially with these kinds of titles, his projects are becoming increasingly indistinguishable. Though “Pistol Whipped” has its moments, including a surprisingly suspenseful car chase and a nicely choreographed cemetery shootout, it manages to fail miserably – more often than not – at its attempts to be a decent action picture.

Matt (Steven Seagal) is an out-of-work, out-of-luck, ex-cop, struggling to keep his weekly visits with his young daughter, while also battling constant drinking and gambling problems. A mysterious, grizzled man dubbed Blue (Lance Henriksen) buys up Matt’s bookie tickets and gambling debts and propositions him to become a hitman. Clearly with nothing better to do and no greater prospects, Matt is randomly delivered envelopes with cash and photos, and expected to scout around town to locate his targets. Most are lowlife, criminal scumbags who deserve a quick demise, but when Matt is ordered to execute the stepfather of his daughter and longtime friend Lieutenant Steve Shacter (Mark Wilson), he investigates Blue and his motives to discover the real villains at work.

A slow-motion, chaotic gunfight in a cemetery – shot with desaturated, black-and-white cinematography and blanketed with operatic music – opens “Pistol Whipped,” promising a ridiculous story and moronic characters. And it delivers. Steven Seagal once again portrays a general, deadbeat antihero, who remains so emotionless and degenerate (save for a couple of choice scenes with his way-too-forgiving, completely un-rebellious daughter) that there really is no point in siding with him. Whether he lives or dies hardly matters because his influence on every other character in the story is basically negative. A burned-out, rundown, jobless gambler, heavy drinker, former detective accused of stealing, divorcee, and now murderer, viewers know he’s the protagonist only because of his name receiving top billing. His actions in the film certainly don’t back it up.

From raising a gun, dropping an envelope, opening a door, to drinking coffee, far too many actions are accompanied by grossly overdramatic music, as if to denote each trivial task as important. Some are even basked in glorious slow-motion. To make it worse, everything is unusually dark, as if to say that none of these characters can ever emerge from their filthy and detestable lives. Technically, only one scene rises above wretched, and that’s the car chase sequence, which showcases a few notable stunts and some genuine yet brief action. Seagal has gotten so out-of-shape and, dare it be said, fat, that even his fist-fighting scenes are toned down, sluggish, and only involving his arms. He practically has to stand still to fight. And if it weren’t for the agile gangsters constantly throwing themselves in his 1-foot attack radius, there wouldn’t be any punching at all.

Trying to be sneaky with its storyline and striking out embarrassingly, “Pistol Whipped” unleashes an impossible amount of ammo without ever reloading – which correlates to tons of situations being presented without any notion of relevancy or meaningfulness. “You aren’t getting out of this alive,” blurts a gun-toting enemy. “Y’know something? I wasn’t planning on it,” replies Seagal. Neither will audiences.

– Mike Massie

  • 2/10