Fire Down Below Reviews
Fire Down Below is clearly one of Steven Seagal's better meaning films because it is another environmental action film from the environmentalist himself. And I always found that while the film was far from great, On Deadly Ground was an entertaining and well meaning action film. I thought that considering Fire Down Below had a higher budget and was mildly more popular with critics, perhaps it had some potential as a guilty pleasure.
It's difficult to believe that Fire Down Below had a larger budget than On Deadly Ground because the technical characteristics of the film are way inferior. The scenery in the film is nice but it is pretty basic, the cinematography is thoroughly uncreative and the scale of the film is far too minimal. This does not compare to the setting of On Deadly Ground or its technical characteristics, and considering that On Deadly Ground was critically panned, the fact that Fire Down Below suffers by comparison really says something about the film. I guess I can't complain too much that the technical characteristics of Fire Down Below lack creativity because it is just another Steven Segal film. But considering the size of its budget, there is more to expect from it which it fails to deliver on. I really cannot for the life of me figure out where the $60 million budget for Fire Down Below actually went because the film is inferior in quality both in terms of story, meaning, technical quality and acting. Of course when I say acting, I exclude Steven Seagal because at least he doesn't try and fail at doing an accent this time like he did in On Deadly Ground. But nevertheless, Fire Down Below remains a dull and far inferior film. All the success of the film is essentially predicated on the quality of the action because fans of Steven Seagal should usually be able to give up on a sensible story, good acting or an intelligent script if it means they can have the fun experience of seeing him kick some major ass. In Fire Down Below, there is none of that. None.
One of the most central differences between On Deadly Ground and Fire Down Below was that On Deadly Ground was an explosive action film with touches of social commentary. In Fire Down Below, it is all about the commentary and comes up short on action in terms of both quality and quantity. What action there is in On Deadly Ground has some minor decent moments, but as a whole it is the same basic punch and shoot that you get in every direct to DVD Steven Seagal film. The action is of pretty low quality for a film with such a massive budget, and none of the actors seem interested in where the project is going or really seem to care all that much. Fire Down Below spends too much time taking itself seriously to remember that it should be going out to fans, and so a lot of the blame in the film can be attributed to the lacklustre direction of Felix Enriquez Alcala. There is a reason that you've never heard of that name before, and its because he managed to somehow take a large budget of $60 million and throw it in the most unpredictable places which leaves the film looking so weak, lifeless and dull. Fire Down Below spends too much time trying to make comments about the way that corrupt officials treat the environment and too little time trying to entertain actual fans of Steven Seagal films, and so it ends up as nothing more than a lifeless vanity project.
The scene where Steven Seagal gives a speech at the local church is a mix between the famous church scene from the Western classic High Noon and the infamous speech that Steven Seagal gave in On Deadly Ground, but it fails to come close to having the meaning of either film. So even for a bare basic action film, Fire Down Below finds itself being derivative of other works which both do and don't feature Steven Seagal in them. Either way, it fails to live up to them . So Fire Down Below not only has a premise which is overly familiar due to being used excessively in many superior and a few inferior action films, but it has moments which genuinely seem taken from other films. Either way, it is far away from such a thing as originality and familiar with derivation.
Fire Down Below does not make use of half Steven Segal's abilities. His acting talent is not something that bothers me, but Fire Down Below barely has Steven Seagal make use of any of the Aikido he has spent his life mastering. It asks him to pull a tiny amount of triggers, but that is all. It is pathetic. The film has the star from Under Siege, On Deadly Ground and many other half decent films, yet it just wastes him on such a boring and pathetic excuse for an action film which is nowhere near the quality of his better works. I don't care what anyone says, On Deadly Ground is a far better film than this pile of crap disguised as a social statement, and this one wastes Steven Seagal.
Even the presence of Kris Kristofferson is wasted. It's kind of sad that he didn't get Harry Dean Stanton's role as he is the one who is truly a master with the guitar. Plus, it would have been interesting to see Harry Dean Stanton is such a role, so there is miscasting that goes on in Fire Down Below.
So sinking far below the standards of On Deadly Ground, Fire Down Below is a pathetic attempt at a social statement and an even worse attempt at an action film.
There was one really odd scene which was a short fight where Taggart, played by Seagal, hands over a handgun to a young boy! Then he proceeds to tell the boy watch over a couple of country thugs with it and suddenly just walks away from there. I found that a bit strange thing to do from an federal agent.
Many Seagal films have very graphic language. This one doesn't. The film wasn't over-violent, and not so violent compared to most Seagal films.
There is enough action including a car chase and four fights. I could spot several Aikido-moves like Sankyo and Tenchi-nage.
On the minus - side, the story is rather simple and its outcome is guessable.
I got it on DVD and I think this might be Seagal's best movie. I rate it four stars because of that.