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Dustin Putman

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Exit Wounds (2001)
1 Stars

Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak
Cast: Steven Seagal, DMX, Isaiah Washington, Anthony Anderson, Tom Arnold, Jill Hennessy, Michael Jai White, Bill Duke, Eva Mendes, Bruce McGill, David Vadim.
2001 – 103 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for violence, profanity, sexual situations, and nudity).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, March 17, 2001.

Steven Seagal's face must be crazy-glued, or something. That is the one overwhelming thought that plagued me throughout "Exit Wounds," his first big-screen motion picture since 1997's "Fire Down Below." In every single shot of Seagal, he has the same brooding facial expression, as if he has been constipated for the last week. Either the look on his face has been permanently molded and glued down, or he should seriously consider flexing the muscles a little more. It wouldn't hurt to take some acting lessons while he's at it.

Seagal may be a mannequin who coasts through the 103-minute duration, but his annoying presence isn't the only problem this generic actioner has. "Exit Wounds" is a cliched journey through incomprehensible storytelling, fast-paced car chases, violent shoot-outs, a speech on the importance of gun safety, and everything else you would expect from a "Steven Seagal movie." On that level, the film delivers for his die-hard fans, but does he really have enough to warrant its dubious existence? Probably not.

Because "Exit Wounds" painstakingly keeps its mid-story plot twists under wraps (all of which can be seen ten miles ahead by any viewer with an IQ over -3), much of the picture has no story at all. What can be said is that Seagal plays Detroit detective Orin Boyd, a hot-tempered character who is fired and relocated to the infamous Precinct 15 after an unprofessional, irresponsible job at saving the Vice President's life during an assassination attempt. Saddled, at first, with the embarrassing job of directing traffic, Boyd soon catches wind of a planned drug deal that leads him to Latrell Walker (DMX), a mysteriously wealthy, young man whose brother is in prison. Latrell may not be the bad guy he seems, however, and some of Boyd's fellow cops at the precinct may not be as honorable as they appear.

"Exit Wounds," laughably based on an actual novel by John Westermann, and directed with mild aplomb by Andrzej Bartkowiak, has little to offer in the way of substance and characters worth caring about, but does manage to fire off a few exciting sequences. While not what one would exactly call "action-packed," there are several scenes that are edited and directed with such energy (including a slam-bang car chase), it's a shame the rest of the movie is so very bad.

Recording artist DMX (2000's "Romeo Must Die") is in every way a perfect match for Steven Seagal, in that he sleepwalks through a part without showing the slightest alteration on his emotion and facial expression. Better is Anthony Anderson (2000's "Me, Myself, & Irene"), a funny, charismatic rising star who, here, plays Latrell's buddy and the owner of a strip club. In the future, he should turn his back on weak material such as this. Other supporting players include Isaiah Washington (1999's "True Crime"), as Seagal's partner at the 15th Precinct; Jill Hennessy (2000's "Autumn in New York"), beautiful, but wasted, as Seagal's superior; Eva Mendes (2000's "Urban Legends: Final Cut"), even more beautiful, and even more wasted; and Tom Arnold (2000's "Shriek If You Know What I Did Last Friday the 13th"), grating as a morning talk show host whom Boyd meets at an Anger Management class.

The screenplay, by Ed Horowitz and Richard D'Ovidio, is a strictly cut-and-paste job that shows up to lay out the basic groundwork, and then makes way for more blasting guns than I've seen within a two-hour radius since the last John Woo opus. What "Exit Wounds" ultimately never escapes is its low-rent, unpolished feel--a position that fails to give the film any credibility. It's a stupid action pic made exclusively for those select people whose ability to stay awake during a movie is judged by how frequently an explosion occurs.

©2001 by Dustin Putman

Dustin Putman