Marked as a Christmas Target

When I first heard of Steven Seagal’s latest cinematic endeavour with French director Pierre Morrell, I was a tad sceptical to be honest. But it seems that Ol’Steve has saved his best performance for this festive Christmas piece.

Which after closer inspection, seems that it could well be a career renaissance for the aikido master. Forget everything you know about Charles Dickens literary classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ because Sir Steven has taken the classic festive ghost story, broken its wrist and thrown it through a plate glass window. Yes, it really is that genre defining.

Loosely based on the Dickens novella, Seagal plays Scrooge McColt the 34th who believes he can bring peace to his community, by helping the disadvantaged citizens in his local community, policing the law and playing his blues music to criminals in a rehabilitation scheme. One night he is visited by the ghost of Christmas Past (Nicolas Cage in a typically over-excitable performance) who thinks its time to steer him on the right path to wrist breaking enlightenment, by showing him the error of his humanitarian ways.

What could have been a sure-fire disaster of cinematic stupidity turns out to be the riskiest project Seagal has ever pulled out of the bag. The story could have easily been a cut and pasted script turns out to be bitterly sardonic and witty take on the classic book. There are several standout moments for instance, just before the first explosive action sequence involving Seagal versus the local town crier and several exploding horse drawn carts (not to mention kamikaze street vendors).

Seagal utters what is (possibly soon to be) a classic one-liner “I may have been brought back in time motherfucker, but lordy I will knock you back into next week”. Although woefully low on the swearing front for a Seagal film, this peppering of witty and re-imagined lines does add to the film.

Then there are the aforementioned explosive sequences which really raise the bar for any Christmas themed action film. Die Hard and Lethal Weapon are now Christmas action movies of the past and if you have ever wanted to know ‘Who would win between Seagal and Bob Cratchett?’, then it will be quickly answered. One particular moment brought back feelings of the Under Siege glory days, as Seagal makes several dangerous weapons from festive Christmas ornaments. Not since Home Alone has the average Christmas decoration been put to such painful and entertaining use.

It might only be loosely based on the original ‘A Christmas Carol’ but that does not stop it from being an entertaining, bang for the buck, Christmas action feast. Not only does it relive the heydays of 80’s action cinema, but also goes about injecting new life into the tired Christmas film formula.

By Dom O’Brien

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