Above the Law
Steven Seagal walks down the street in a black sleeveless T-shirt for this prestidigitation, four men pull up in a convertible, words are exchanged, one of the men draws a pistol, all four emerge, two with machetes and one with a baseball bat, Seagal jujitsus a machete-wielder into slicing off the hand holding the pistol. The mêlée ends with the last thug taking to his heels, Seagal pursues him on foot, they briefly pass under the elevated tracks for a restrained allusion to The French Connection.
The quick and devastating fight scene in Oktober’s base (The Quiller Memorandum) is paid specific homage in the finale.
One of those things, you (Gene Hackman) walk into a Nazi HQ in Chicago, what do you say? “Great day to be an American, isn’t it?”
The major point of risibility in Die Hard is the Fox Building in Century City. Under Siege takes the Missouri out for a spin, to much better effect.
As a matter of fact, once the metaphor is established, it’s found to be quite useful. One of the many contemporary problems is finding a language equal to them all. The style is somewhat diffident, because these matters are so unpleasant, but there you are.
At the same time, the sobriety of direction gives a cool vision to visionary elements like Erika Eleniak’s stripper, Andy Romano’s admiral, and Nick Mancuso’s agency man. The real precedent for the takeover is not Die Hard but North Sea Hijack, that piece of madness from Andrew V. McLaglen (a name all but forgotten now amongst the crazes and fads for this or that unit monkey).
Under Siege is a reminder that there’s more in Hollywood than draining dollars out of slums. Watching this bravura film and thinking of the rest, you remember the man who offered to kiss the hand that wrote Ulysses. “Oh no,” said James Joyce in return, “it did a lot of other things, too.”