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Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MAXIMUM CONVICTION -- Blu-Ray/DVD review by porfle

"When two great Saints meet," Paul McCartney once said about John and Yoko, "it is a humbling experience."  Well, that may be, but when two great Steves meet--as do Seagall and Austin in the low-budget, high-octane action flick MAXIMUM CONVICTION (2012)--it's the bad guys who are not only humbled but thoroughly ass-kicked in every conceivable way, shape, and form.  I believe names are taken as well.

The story, which, at first, is vaguely reminiscent of "Assault on Precinct 13", begins in a military prison which is being decommissioned and its prisoners moved.  Among them are two women, one of whom (Steph Song as "Samantha") is a CIA courier claiming unjust persecution.  Seagal and Austin play former Special Forces operatives hired to oversee security during the move, which is pretty routine until a deadly force of mysterious mercenaries show up and start shooting up the place.  Their goal is to make off with Samantha and whatever secret information she carries, but they have to go through the two Steves to do it.

Hard to imagine this being the first time the two action icons have been paired in the same movie.  Pro wrestling star Austin, of course, lends his gruff, bulldog presence with all its droll machismo and deadpan good humor, while being totally convincing as a Black Ops veteran equally at home in a fistfight or a firefight.  His dialogue reflects a calm, no-nonsense attitude, as when he addresses his team: "They'll be going after him [Seagal].  We need to assess enemy strength, engage, kill, clear access for him.  He'll find us."

And then there's the overweight, scowling "Big Enchilada" himself.  Long past his lithe, whiplash-quick prime, former martial arts champion Seagal is now simply a cinematic force of nature who need only show up, mumble a few cool quips, and go through the motions of vanquishing opponents like a sledge hammer driving tent stakes into the ground.  When he does a fight scene these days it's more of a special-effects and editing trick than actual choreography, and is largely dependent on the skills of whatever director he happens to be working with at the time. 

But what the heck, it's Seagal--he carries more weight at this point by just who he is than what fancy moves he makes.  We know the bad guys are screwed simply because he exists, so the actual fight scenes, then, are just a formality.  His line delivery, as always, is often priceless in its unabashed bad-assedness.  As his character tells Samantha: "If you listen to me, do what I say, I'll kill them before they kill you, y'hear?"  Then he tells the other female prisoner, Charlotte (Aliyah O'Brien), whom he knows nothing about, to behave or "...I'll kill you just like I kill them.  We cool?"

While both Seagal and Austin bring to this bloody, bullet-riddled party just what's expected of them, so director Keoni Waxman holds up his end of the deal by surpassing his work on Seagal's THE KEEPER and the Austin vehicle HUNT TO KILL, which were mere practice runs for this film's sustained mayhem and suspense.  The tension never lets up as Waxman, with the aid of some impressive cinematography, keeps the viewer off guard and on edge during a lively series of hardbitten, violent action setpieces. 

Steph Song and Aliyah O'Brien are effective as the two female prisoners who, for some reason, are the targets of the invading mercenary force.  Old fave Michael Pare' (STREETS OF FIRE) is excellently cast as Blake, the ruthless leader of the bad guys--he's frightening when dealing with an uncooperative prison warden, and his final hand-to-hand clash with Seagal gives the film its most satisfying payoff.  Martial arts and soap opera star Bren Foster appears as part of Steve Austin's commando team and gets to engage in a little extreme fighting of his own.  A superb musical score by Michael Richard Plowman keeps the tension taut from start to finish.

The Blu-Ray/DVD combo from Anchor Bay is in 1.78:1 widescreen with 5.1 sound and subtitles in English and Spanish.  Extras include a commentary with director Waxman and co-executive producer Binh Dang, plus brief featurettes about the making of the film and working with its two action icons along with interviews with Steve Austin and Bren Foster.

With "B" movies such as this, you never know whether you're going to get an above-average effort or a piece of junk.  But despite an unfortunately generic title, the slickly-made MAXIMUM CONVICTION is one of the best movies of its kind I've ever seen, especially for fans of the two Steves.  It's a minor league action flick that's major league fun.

Buy it at
Blu-Ray/DVD combo


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