Rocks Reviews: General Commander

Starring: Steven Seagal and other idiots.

Directed: Ross W Clarkson & Phillipe Martinez

Streaming: Amazon Prime (Via Freevee)

Run Time: 85 Minutes.

Steven Seagal. Actor, musician, martial arts ‘expert’, lawman, sexual harassment enthusiast. What is there to say that hasn’t already been said?

Its difficult to put into words how Steven Seagal films make most people feel. Some say its like being on a boat in 90mph winds whilst trying to juggle Ming vases. Some say its like swallowing a pound of Dundee cake whilst getting keyhole surgery on your knee. Others say its just downright dull.

I have to say, some of the early Seagal Ouvre was vaguely interesting. Under Siege is great, Under Siege 2 is good. There are other films. I decided to take a deep dive into his second last film credit — General Commander — released in 2019 to zero fanfare or acclaim whatsoever to see if I could understand what Seagal films are/were now.

Before we do so, a short cultural analysis. Steven Seagal has played an FBI Agent (1), DEA Agent (2), Fireman (1), Doctor (1), (alarmingly) a Professor of Archaeology (1), Air Force (1), Zombie Hunter (1) and ‘Cock Puncher’ (The Onion Movie) in some of his lesser commonly repeated roles. However its fair to say the man has a type, as outlined in the below graph.

Its a rich tapestry of work that he has produced over the years and it is perhaps fitting that this film, the puzzlingly named ‘General Commander’, he plays a CIA agent, his joint most common fetishization.

The first thing I can confidently claim about this film is that it is an absolute war-crime. From some absolutely baffling camera work in the opening scenes (where Seagal is replaced by what looks like a mannequin for back-of-head shots in an interview) to a scene where 5 consecutively different actors react in an identical way to a sentence in different shots, I’m scratching my head why anyone would put their name against this.

There is also the below action sequence which I have tried to lay out as its pickled my head.

Seagal is the Hexagon. He kicks the door down (which is flimsy enough to be kicked in but heavy enough to flatten an actual human being) and is shot at by pentagon in the bathroom. Then Diamond shoots the other way, breaks the 4th dimension and hits the guy in the bathroom
Later shots establish the bathroom at the side of the room, but the shot fired in that direction looks completely wrong and the shot fired at Seagal doesn’t come from there. Unless there is a vortex in this room. Which I am not ruling out

Anyway in terms of plot, Seagal heads up a team of CIA operatives in Cambodia who attempt to entrap a local gangster who appears to be in the organ harvesting business. Despite them blowing up a car with a mushroom cloud that wouldnt look out of place in a Hiroshima drama series, their entrapment attempts go wrong (which we watch half of through a fucking snapchat spy filter) and an agent is killed. Their team is henceforth disbanded without reaching their main goal of catching another gangster by the name of Orsetti

Well at least that’s what they’re ordered to do…but Seagal goes and makes a deal with a Russian woman for some money (Colour me fucking shocked by this development) and his team agree to assemble to take down Orsetti.

Orsetti and his gang are at least vaguely believable as poundshop villains, with henchmen including a teenager with a large Inter Milan badge tattoo on his shoulder and another that looks like a very hungover James Richardson got cloned with about 20% of Frank Lebeouf. Orsetti is incensed at the early killing of his men by sources unknown and makes things bloody trying to find out who it was — and gets to deliver such lines as ‘You are like a fork in a soup…useless’ in Italian. Nice.

Anyway, this was filmed in 2017 and the cinematic action flips between Cambodia, Phillipines and Thailand with limited notice — probably because it was all fucking filmed on about 4 different streets in Manila. This will have assisted Seagal as like many of his later works, his mobility isn’t great. Other than the door kick down at the start of he film (watch it slowed down) we get a cracking sequence of hand to hand combat as he takes down a would be assassin, with some of his now legendary ‘hands of steel’ combat as below:

Bless ’em, the supporting CIA cast do their best in support. We’ve got Tech-Girl, angry-brooding-motorcycle-woman, ex-criminal-smoking-woman, All-American-I-Wear-Sunglasses-Into-Nighttime-Shootouts Guy and British-guy-who’s-eyes-are-far-too-close-together-and-is-definitely-on-a-register. Its a helluva team and despite their best efforts to explain vast swathes of the plot in dialogue written by farting into Michael Mann’s 4th best 1980s typewriter, I still barley fucking understand what is going on, something to do with the darkweb, crypto and guns. I think.

The most criminal thing about this film is potentially its structure. The opening sequence is 10 minutes, followed by 45 minutes of fucking moping around with very little happening. I honestly couldn’t describe any of the events in this time, it’s all so fucking unmemorable. I think someone gets stabbed eating spaghetti. And then BOOM! Sucdenly thanks to a man in a Panama hat they’ve found Orsetti (who was previously fucking unfindable) and it’s endgame! Seagal is sitting at a table explaining the plot in a hotel restaurant as we watch flashbacks/forwards of some action which doesnt make any sense. Hungover James Richardson pops up as a plot device to locate the bad guy and boom, we’re away in a haze of bullets and bullshit into the final act.

At this stage I want to briefly list some of the crimes committed in this film:

1 — Seagal wears the same costume for the entire film. Given than he consists of 50% blubber, 50 percent odious gases and 50% pork based snacks, one would imagine spending any time with him on set would have caused serious damage to at least 3/5 senses

2 — there are 20 characters in this film roughly, and I can remember the name of one — Decker — and only because it made me feel hungry. I have no idea who Decker is

3 — at no point is it explained what Orsetti actually does other than organ harvesting. And if thats all it is why are the CIA investigating one harvester in the fucking Phillipines.

4 — why is anyone making an effort in this film, its like trying to make a cake out of Amyl Nitrate and old trainers

Anyway there is a final boss battle where a transaction ambush predicabtly turns into a bloodbath, where the women all seem to end up shot or injured and the men alive. There’s an outstanding bit here where Seagal is shown shooting at bad guys in a single shot — despite his car door never opening in the preceding shot and being completely differently lit to the rest of the cast. In fact, I dont think Seagal appears in shot with another actor at all for the whole shootout (Which is par for the course for later Seagal films so I don’t know why I’m shocked).

What I didn’t expect next was one of the funniest end sequences I’ve ever seen.

After Seagal gets PTSD from the opening shootout gone wrong and lets the bad guys get away, it’s up to the All-American to pursue Orsetti’s car on foot and not only catch it, but shoot out a single tyre with the 40odd bullets he expends as they drive over the start of a bridge. This sends the car into a straight 180 flip onto its roof which seemingly doubles its speed and sends it careering over to the far side of the bridge. Just as the Englishman and Seagal close in to finish the deal, the car stops on its roof in the middle of the bridge and 90s CGI arrives in the form of a helicopter!

And it looks TERRIBLE! But not to worry, the Englishman has a rocket launcher and fucking safety goggles in his boot, which he uses to take down the copter and say the line “Merry Christmas Muvvafucka!”. All-American sees Orsetti running away and blows up his car, sending a fucking massive mushroom cloud into the sky and seemingly killing him…only for Orsetti to emerge from the flames brandishing a knife…to which Seagal draws his own knife and they meet in the middle to have a fucking knife fight!

To summarise it, Seagal appears in 40% of it (front on shots only) and escapes scot free having stabbed and slit Orsetti a million times.

And then the CIA order a drone strike to blow Seagal up at his house.

Everyone involved in this film should be fucking ashamed. The point of cinema is to pass some kind of enjoyment, entertainment or meaning to people’s existence, whether it be the fucking Paw Patrol Movie or Pulp Fiction. This film has absolute zero anything. Its too stupid to even be a tax dodge. The actors in this film cling to the script like its their life support, with some of the most wooden acting outside of a DIY wholesalers. I presume Seagal now has some sort of meat based paralysis as his face DOES NOT CHANGE FOR THE ENTIRE FILM.

Its one thing to make a bad film. Its another thing entirely to make an abomination of this nature.

Positives: its 85 minutes long

Negatives: it’s 3 hours of my life I’ll never get back, the direction, the script, the acting, the fucking catering department, the Phillipine government for permitting this, the screen actors guild for not revoking the fucking rights of everyone involved in this from owning a camera for the rest of time.

Rating: -1000000000/10.

--

--

Writing about Championship Manager 2001–02 with no regard for my own personal sanity.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
@CMOnTheRocks

Writing about Championship Manager 2001–02 with no regard for my own personal sanity.