For those whose knowledge of Steven Seagal movies are those from the first half of his career watching him in "Pistol Whipped" will most likely be a disappointment and in fairness it is not a great action movie. But for those who have endured the more recent direct to DVD Seagal movies "Pistol Whipped" will be close to good for the simple reason he isn't dubbed and he does more of his own action. But as I said "Pistol Whipped" is not a good action movie as whilst featuring a storyline about a washed up former cop blackmailed into becoming a hitman it is predictable in narrative, style and action.
Kicked off the force, gambling debts over a million and a drink problem all contribute to Matt Conlin's (Steven Seagal - Urban Justice) miserable life where he is a self loathing lousy father. That is after his latest loss at the tables sees him picked up by a man known as Blue (Paul Calderon) who takes him to see "The Old Man" (Lance Henriksen - AVP: Alien vs. Predator) who has brought up his debts in return for him doing him favours, killing criminal scum. It leads to Matt getting on top of his life as he quits the drink, the gambling and meets the beautiful Drea (Renee Goldsberry). But things get complicated when things become personal and affect his family.
So laying it on the line "Pistol Whipped" does not feature some great storyline, we may have more depth as Matt is a conflicted character with a reason to be bitter but what follows is purely an excuse for action. And all of the little story elements from Matt being a lousy dad to him wondering who the good guys are as a hit leaves him conflicted is all text book stuff. But to be honest what do you expect, do you expect Seagal to play a bad guy who stays bad, if so you haven't watched another of his formula driven movies to know that will never be the case.
What that means is that unsurprisingly the storyline to "Pistol Whipped" is a vehicle for action and this is where the movie has some merit. Firstly there is a decent battle in a cemetery which book ends the movie but more importantly director Roel ReinÃ© has persuaded Seagal to dispense with the body double and do more of his own action. Now on one hand this is good because after so many Seagal movies which obviously feature a stand in it is good to Seagal doing his own butt kicking but at the same time it is not vintage Seagal and not the elaborate action of his earlier movies.
It is not just the action which Seagal does as it is him delivering the lines rather than being dubbed. Again it is a mixed blessing because dubbed Seagal was never a good thing but non dubbed Seagal does lead to some Brando style mumbling. Aside from that well there are no performances which impress although Paul Calderon as Blue makes for a decent mystery character that you are never quite sure of his motivations.
What this all boils down to is that compared to most action movies "Pistol Whipped" is not good but compared to more recent Seagal movies it works because director Roel ReinÃ© has got Seagal doing his own action rather than relying on a body double all the time.