Despite some awful editing, missteps in plot, obvious fluff scenes, this is actually not a "bad" movie. What makes it uncomfortable to watch is the now aging and overweight Seagal unable to do *any* of his own stunts! The terrorists are hopeless zealots but not unbelievably so. The CIA stuff is trite but not untenably unrealistic. The cast does what they can to keep the plot moving along...and it's usually enough. Seagal's dialog (in breathy monotone) is what too often slows down the action. Timothy Carhart is perfectly cast as the female agent's supervisor: he's the *real* question-mark re good guy vs bad guy. But then most of the actors turn in credible performances. Unlike some "B" movies I didn't feel the need to turn this one off halfway thru.
Jonathan Cold returns, this time he goes undercover to stop a group of terrorists before they bomb Los Angeles.
May 25, 2023 at 02:38 PM
Not Bad for a "B" (direct to Video)
Not bad, but not very good.
It's been a busy year for Steven Seagal, with almost innumerable films added to his CV. Many films, but a generally bog standard of movies, with Today You Die, rivalling last years atrocious Out Of Reach in the crappola stakes. Thankfully Black Dawn marks a vast improvement in thrills for a Seagal film and his best film since his big comeback, Exit Wound's a far, far away now, 4 years ago. This is also far better than the Foreigner, the film for which this is essentially a sequel to.
The film is very much in the style of the Bourne movies with the formula agency spooks and espionage stuff. It's very formulaic however the film is done with more intelligence than many of these kind of DTV nuclear/political conspiracy films, which albeit still doesn't mean it's all that intelligent. What I can say about this film, that sadly I haven't been able to say about recent Seagal flicks, is that there is a level of competence to the film and also Seagal himself doesn't stink up the movie as he did with the otherwise okay Submerged. The film is well shot and looks decent and although the editing is a little to flashy at times it generally is slick and gives the film a polished look. The cinematography goes for a naturalistic look like the Bourne films did. The score also ranges from decent, when it is ripping off John Powell's Bourne scores, to a bit lazy and average during action scenes and less important scenes.
As for the action: This is also a mixed bag with gun fights ranging from competent to lazily and quickly constructed. While the fight sequences, which are extremely few and brief, are poor. The poorness of the fights however are due to the fact that Seagal isn't present in any of them, even though his character is involved. They are poor because Seagal is hardly even used for inserts and his double is constantly being used so the director is attempting to hide this fact. As a result the fights are incredibly disorientating leaving you unsure if Seagal's character is even fighting. However there is a great car chase and the film also includes some impressive stunts. Stunt-Co-ordinator Dicky Beer certainly gives the film some excitement in periods and does a good job.
As for the big guy himself? Well Seagal it must be said is far more interested this time around. He at least performs all his own dialogue, as far as I was aware. However what is still evident is that clearly he isn't really enjoying himself too much. He also has that expected, but still annoying tendency to lazily and breathily whisper all his dialogue, with a "I hate this crap dialogue!" look on his face. There is still also the fact that Seagal regularly uses a stand in, as well as overworking his stunt double again. The film has a strange feeling to it in another respect and that is the sheer fact that overall Seagal doesn't have a lot of screen time considering he is the main lead. This means there is more focus, perhaps too much on the bad guys. Seagal disappears on occasion for up to 5 minutes. I would guess that Seagal was probably only involved in about 70% of the shooting schedule. Whether this fact is due to laziness, contract stipulation or other filming commitments (after all he does do 4 movies a year now!) I don't know, it just feels strange for the lead to go awol so often for so long.
The film is also blessed with a good supporting cast compared to other Seagal flicks. The bad guys aren't too clichéd while John Pyper Ferguson is a welcome casting, even though he seems to be putting on a bizarre accent (his character is British). Tamara Davies is hot and all round decent as Seagal's sidekick while Seagal's character is also slightly more interesting than usual cause Jonathan Cold I feel isn't a cut and dried good guy. This guy has his bad side unlike Seagal's usual goody two-shoes image.
Overall this is a marked improvement for Seagal. The first and last 20 minutes are pretty good and even though the middle section drags quite a bit the film still never had that feeling of being terrible like Today You Die. The film has it's own action too, not borrowing from other films and the car chase is excellent. Seagal fans will be pleased with this and I was surprised by my enjoyment levels for this especially after the diabolically bad trailer the movie had. Still though, Stevo has some work to do. Shadows Of The Past sounds like it has promise though. **
Steven Seagal returns in Black Dawn.Cool title.I cannot say the same for the movie though.It ranks as the Worst Seagal movie yet.Yes.It is worse than Out for a Kill.Did we really need a sequel to the Forigner that bad?
Steven returns as Jonathon Cold.Assassin for hire.This time he is out to stop a group of Terrorists and prevent Nuclier Bomb from hitting Los Angelas with the help of CIA agent Tamara Davies.
This idea seems okay.The Jonathon Cold character once again gives the big guy a chance to tarnish his clean-cut cinematic Image.You get the feeling with a decent director and production team this movie could have went somewhere.If this cost 15 million I wanna know where it was spent?It was not spent on the movie?!!
The action scenes are not bad.The movie was obviously shot like a Doug Liman flick.Its just that most of the Time Seagal is doubled so much you cannot take the movie seriously whatsoever.The script seems...what script?!Logic is Black Dawned for a dozen low-budget action movies.
Seagal is not too bad here for a whole 15 minutes he is engaging then goes about the sleepwalking that he has done for his last 2 movies.Whoever is doing his fighting is doing a commendable job.
The light that shines through is Tamara Davies as Cold's sidekick.She has the chops,skills,looks and drive that give Black Dawn a little kick in the action department.How she got in this movie is a riddle.She should be a bigger star.Nicholas Davidoff and John Pyper Feruson are not believable bad guys.
Whose idea was it to make a sequel to a bad movie in the first place? It did not set the world on fire to my memory.I can only hope they inject the next Forigner sequel with some class,imagination,Less stunt doubles and a livelier Seagal.If not then leave Jonathon Cold on Ice.