An ex-DEA agent's life takes an unexpected turn when he comes to the rescue of a seductive woman, and finds himself entangled in a bloody game of cat and mouse with a maniacal drug lord when he goes on the run with her…and $2 million worth of drug money.
Don't you love a good heist film? You know, like one in the vein of ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ or even the ‘Italian Job.’ It's fun to try to guess how their elaborate plan will play out and see how they will collect their millions. Well, that's not what we are going to be talking about today, although for some reason this film wants to live up to those examples. I want to meet the guy that thought it was a good idea to put such a washed-up actor like Steven Seagal in the Danny Ocean role. Because when you think of Seagal you think of Sinatra, or Clooney……Right? I know Seagal might want us to think that, but a five-year-old could tell you it's not true. I will be spewing a lot of venom at this film, but the two worst choices made here were to make it a heist film, and more importantly to put the toxic personality of Steven Seagal in the lead.
Right off the bat, we start off with a coincidence that I just cannot swallow. Decker (Steven Seagal) is an ex CIA officer who was forced into retirement and now lives in France of all places. One day he randomly stumbles upon damsel in distress Lisa (Jade Ewen), who is getting manhandled by her boy toy Ronnie (Andrei Ciopec). Decker does manage to save her, but gets into a awkwardly shot gunfight with Ronnie and kills him. But there might be a light at the end of this tunnel because Lisa happens to know there was the score of a lifetime in Ronnie's car that has now been impounded, and Decker and Lisa must team up and form a bond to retrieve the money and get away with the riches. We are then treated to the lamest heist in the history of heist films to infiltrate the French Police impound.
Words cannot express how whiplash inducing this movie feels, and the majority of that has to do with putting Seagal in the lead. Seagal is sixty-four years old now, and he still is trying his hardest to keep his thuggish attitude. And whether you thought it worked for him at the beginning of his career or not, I can tell you with certainty that it doesn't work here. I can't tell you how many lines of dialogue start off with him saying “Ay yo bruthah” or “Hey, Jack,” and every time it feels like an aging man trying to be hip. It honestly gets so bad that I expected him to walk into a room and tell a waaazup joke. On top of that, Seagal is given every washed-up cop stereotype in the book. At one point, he admits to having a favorite gun that he has conveniently named Gracey…. Really? All of this could add up to being a laughable parody of an action hero, but in a heist setting it feels all kinds of off.
Who are the goons that are after the money and acting against Decker you ask? A man that goes by the name Gage (Florin Piersic, Jr.) has a group of thugs and they all work for a shadowy figure/drug dealer. Piersic brings what he can to his role, given the talent he has to play opposite of on screen, but that’s not saying much. Many of these nameless thugs are there to get taken out in buffoonish ways by our favorite action star. Now, I know that even in his prime, Seagal displayed more of a defensive fighting style. But here, the camera is cutting so fast it makes Taken 3 look like a work of art, which is to be expected from a star and a movie of this caliber, but what is even more concerning is that Seagal seems to only know one move. Stand there, look like you’re bored, wait for nameless thug to put his hand out for you, grab his hand, and flip him to the ground. This happens over... and over… and over again to achieve a comical affect each time. That brings me to my next gripe, and that is how many things feel like Seagal stroking his own ego, and becoming a mighty hard pill to swallow. Beyond the fact that we are supposed to believe Seagal is this bad ass, we are also presented with the fact that Lisa and Decker are sleeping with each other and mixing business with pleasure. The question is, are they on the same side or is Lisa using Decker to get the money? This is an absurd plot to have in this movie considering the fact that Seagal has thirty-six years on Ewen and it just becomes a ridiculous premise that feels like a stroking of the ego.
To sum up how much of an identity crisis this movie has, at times there is a standard action movie score, which then will switch to a jazzy 'Ocean Eleven' score, sometimes even in the same scene. Even the score of the film doesn’t know what it wants to be. I understand the impulse to say this is so bad it's good, or a "guilty pleasure,” but honestly, there are better films that even Seagal has made that are more of a guilty pleasure than this. There are way too many whiplash inducing tonal shifts here that gave me a headache. By the thirty-minute mark, at about the time that Decker and Lisa hook up, I had already noticed so many wild inconsistencies that I felt just as insane as this entire production feels.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'End of A Gun' comes to Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate in a package that is quite fitting for such a cinematic gem such as this. The traditional slip cover to hard cover is in full effect here, with a BD-25 Blu-ray and a Digital HD Ultraviolet code enclosed inside. Numerous skippable Lionsgate trailers (3 of which are of new Seagal films) appear before the still image main menu that lets us navigate from there.
Seagal does a quick cutting drop kick with ‘End of A Gun’ on Blu-ray, with a 1080P MPEG 4 AVC encode that is perfectly serviceable for what it is. This is a straight to Blu-ray Steven Seagal film, so it's safe to say we aren't going to get inventive cinematography. Framed at a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, there is some good detail on the screen. Not that we want to see every wrinkle on Seagal’s face, but we can and it does look impressive. The cinematography makes Jade Ewen, who is here mainly as eye candy, look quite flattering. For the most part, this is a bright film, so white and black levels seem kept in check.
My only problem is that this has to be the blandest looking heist film in recent history. There just isn't anything special about it. Where are the bright lights of Las Vegas? Or if this is supposedly taking place in Paris, where are those iconic landmarks? The fact of the matter is, this film was shot in Bucharest, not Paris, and it shows because the cinematography feels like it is embarrassed to really show itself off. Ultimately that leads to bland camera angles and an overall bland look for the film that trickles down into making this transfer feel bland as well. In the end, this transfer feels just as excited as Seagal feels, it’s bored and is waiting for itself to withstand its meager runtime.
Lionsgate brings ‘End of A Gun’ to Blu-ray with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track that feels just as scattered and confused as the movie itself. The LFE track fares the best, being just as loud and bombastic as you would expect it to be in a film like this. Whether it’s the odd score of the film, Seagal shooting his gun off, or the huge explosion at the end of the film, bass levels are exactly where you would expect them to be, giving the track much needed heft. Vocals are crisp, clear, and audible. But as far as the rest of the track, it seems to be a victim of the rapid fire editing that plagues this film.
Every action scene in the film is crippled by rapid cutting to try to sidestep the fact that Seagal can't do this action anymore. We run into a problem when the fronts and the surrounds occasionally get confused as to who is doing what, and as a result we get very little speaker separation. At the end of the scene where they actually do the heist, Seagal does his patented twist of the arm flip to the ground move about three times then drop kicks a guy in the face. The editing is so bad in this scene that we get little to no speaker separation, and it happens far too often. This stunted my immersion quite a bit and spoiled most of my enjoyment from the majority of the so called "action" in the film. Unfortunately, Seagal’s inability to do simple fight choreography has infected the audio track of this production and rendered it terribly mediocre.
Theatrical Trailer (2:06 HD)
While watching this movie, I came up with a new term to describe the whole slew of problems I had here. This film has fallen a victim of being "Seagaled.” He is by far the worst thing here; whether it is a ridiculous plot development to stroke his ego, the old man trying to be hip line readings, or just horrible action choreography, it is all terrible and toxic to the film. The only thing he accomplished are some unintentional laughs I had from time to time. Besides that, the tonal inconsistency here should be something a film school student watches as an example of what not to do. The movie is called "End of A Gun" and stars Steven Seagal, yet it is a heist movie for the first half, and a revenge flick for the rest. Nothings seems to gel in this movie, and like a puzzle where none of the pieces fit, you just want to throw it across the room in aggravation and confusion.