Pistol Whipped is the latest effort from the Weighty Warrior himself,
Steven Seagal. Has it really been three years since the last one, as indicated
by IMDb? I guess it must have been because the Paunchy Paladin has picked up a
lot of wrinkles, and a lot more chins. This time he's going for a little more
depth of character by playing a disgraced cop who lost his job, then his wife,
and then finally lost himself in the bottle. In addition to being an
alcoholic, he is also a gambling addict with a million dollars worth of
markers floating around the city.
A powerful and mysterious character buys up all of the Chubby Champion's
markers, and then enlists him to pay off his debts by turning to murder for
hire. Lacking any other options, the Stout Sensai goes along reluctantly, but
gradually grows more enthusiastic about the job when he does a bit of research
and finds out that Mr. Mysterious is only asking him to kill really bad dudes.
He reaches a bit of inner peace about being a hit man until the day when his
new assignment involves killing his best friend, who is also the loving
step-father of Seagal's own daughter. Is Mr. Mysterious giving him a test? Has the Big-Bellied
Brawler been conned into this position? Or is it possible that the best friend
is actually a bad dude? And how can our tubby hero find out for sure?
Interesting sidelight: Seagal's ex-wife is played by Blanchard Ryan, whose
career really never materialized after Open Water. This is only the second
film she has made since her nude scene in that surprise hit temporarily raised
her to the top of our consciousness.
Overall, Pistol Whipped is just another generic crime film filled with
amoral hit men who seem almost heroic compared to the immoral cops. It's maybe
a bit better than average for Seagal's straight-to-vid filmography, which is
to say watchable but not worth seeking out, but it could have been much better
with a little tweaking. There are a couple of good action set-pieces, like a final shoot-out in
a cemetery, so this movie might have
been a strong straight-to-vid if the screenwriter and Seagal had
had the courage of their convictions and had been willing to create the
character as a true anti-hero. As it is, the script sold out with all sorts of
sappy feel-good compromises. Mercifully, the script doesn't try to justify his
drinking or gambling, but it does tries to exonerate him for his failures as a
husband and a police officer, and it layers on his "essential goodness" really
thick by showing how much he loves and is respected by his daughter and his
Personally, I think the big fella would be more effective without all the
grating faux-nobility. I liked him best in the scenes where he didn't give a
shit. Why can't Seagal just play a consistently screwed-up bad-ass without
relying on some maudlin devices as crutches to engage audience sympathy?