Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Shadow Man

Steven Seagal plays the same ex-CIA bad-ass he always does, as he slumbers through another of the unending production line of DTV films he has been condemned to spend all eternity making.

The plot for this one is - unlike many of whispering Steve’s recent efforts - reasonably straightforward. Old Totem face has been made the unwitting courier of a deadly virus. When his daughter is snatched by rogue agents, Steve vows to get his daughter back whilst preventing the virus falling into the wrong hands.

Now when I say this one is easier to understand, I mean merely the that broad narrative arc makes sense. Individual scenes and indeed whole plot strands make none.

Why for instance despite the kidnap of his daughter does Steve never display a moment of parental anguish? Why does he spend most of the film ambling around with the woman who snatched his little girl at the beginning of the film?

So the best I can do is tell you that the villains want Steve dead. A helicopter is called up to do the job chasing Steve down a heavily tree lined road. The chopper loses sight of Seagal allowing him to slip out the vehicle.

Steve takes up a sneaky firing position on the chopper armed with his pistol. He takes careful aim and starts firing. The chopper pilot says “We’re taking fire!” Followed by “We’re hit, we’re going down.”

Viewers who still at this point have the willpower to question the plot might ask themselves, why doesn’t the pilot fly off out of harms way? Anyway he doesn’t and continues to hover there like a giant sitting duck.

Despite looking like a serious military helicopter Seagal’s pop gun pistol has enough firepower to seriously damage the helicopter. It begins to spin round and lose altitude, before finally blowing up in an unconvincing CGI fireball.


Genuinely poor. On the evidence here director Michael Keusch shouldn’t be trusted with the blowing up a party balloon let alone a helicopter.

The explosions are yellow CGI generated blobs out of which emerge non descript chunks of what we’re supposed to believe is helicopter wreckage, but look more like a few random jigsaw pieces.

Steve and the helicopter never appear in the same shot. And just in case we might be harbouring doubts that this scene was actually taking place in front of Steve, the camera cuts back to Old Totem Face moments after it explodes. We see Steve briefly illuminated by what we assume to be the chopper fireball, but what is in all probability an off screen torch.

It’s cheesy, poorly done, and an affront to the viewer. Yet, oddly, it’s so risible that you can’t despise the touch for long. If you’re going to be bad, you may as well be this bad.

Exploding helicopter innovation

None. Much like Seagal films of this era, it‘s hard to detect any evidence that time, effort, or imagination has been spent on this scene.

Do passengers survive?



An otherwise terminally dull film briefly flickers into life, before being snuffed out by the a swift return to tedium.


The scene leaves exploding helicopter fans feeling cheap and tawdry, as if we’ll tolerate any kind crap film just because it’s got a chopper fireball in.

Favourite line

“Oh man, that’s no a freebase accident. That’s syphilis.”


  1. Totally forgot about the weak helicopter explosion in this! Hate CGI explosions!

  2. The only positive thing to say about it is that if you're going to be bad, be this bad.