Seagal on Fire

Steven Seagal in Fire Down Below (1997)

When his colleague dies whilst investigating toxic dumping in the hills of Jackson, Kentucky EPA Marshal Jack Taggert (Steven Seagal) heads down there undercover to try and find out what is going on and avenge the death of his friend. Whilst Jack finds some locals such as Sarah Kellogg (Marg Helgenberger) and Cotton Harry (Harry Dean Stanton) friendly he finds others are a lot less welcoming especially those who are connected to local businessman Orin Hanner (Kris Kristofferson) whose business is behind the smoke which envelops the nearby mountain.

If you knew then what you know now you might have done things differently, it is a saying which can be amended to reflect on movies as well especially when it comes to the movies of Steven Seagal because if we knew how bad his movies now would be we would have appreciated his movies back when he appeared to give a damn. Take "Fire Down Below", I remember watching this back in the late 90s and thought what a corny pile of rubbish it was with terrible dialogue and a bog standard storyline. Yet watched now and comparing it to Seagal's later movies and it seems in a whole other league with the action star delivering the action fans of his loved him for.

Marg Helgenberger in Fire Down Below (1997)

But whilst there is no denying that "Fire Down Below" is much better than Seagal's later movies it is still a weak movie which is just another stranger in town dealing with a corrupt business man. Yes there is a whole environmental slant to this with Seagal playing an EPA Marshal trying to bring down a toxic waste dumper but this movie is most certainly not about protecting the environment and all about Seagal playing the cool customer who has quick fists and ability to take on multiple guys at the same time whilst trying to sound smart with what he says.

I suppose the real truth of the matter is that "Fire Down Below" for all its various issues is a movie where Seagal seems to be participating. Fans will know what I mean by that because in Seagal's later movies he seems to be there in name only with obvious use of a body double in various scenes where here you can see it is Seagal doing the quick blocks in the action scenes which is what fans want to see. Okay so some of the action gets stupid such as a chase scene involving a big rig but it certainly ticks the escapism box.

What this all boils down to is that "Fire Down Below" isn't a great movie, it isn't even Seagal at his best but it is Seagal still giving a damn when it came to putting in a performance and it makes a difference as despite its faults "Fire Down Below" ends up entertaining especially in comparison to his later movies.

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