Submerged (2005) (part 3 of 6)

Cut to the Atlantic Ocean. More specifically, to the aircraft carrier USS Clinton. Boy, the parties on that ship must be awesome.

A chopper lands and our hero finally makes his entrance. He’s shot in the shadows and… holy mother of god. I thought wearing black was supposed to have a slimming effect! Seagal looks like Joe Don Baker grew his hair out, dyed it black, and slicked it back with enough WD-40 to stock three Pep Boys stores. He’s beefy, but not in a good way. I know that Joe Don’s beefy, but at least he looks like he could beat somebody up. Seagal, on the other hand, doesn’t look like he could beat up anybody, besides that morbidly obese guy in front of him holding up the buffet line. Hell, I’d bet guys who got kicked out of the Navy for failing the physical could still make Seagal scream like a girl. Which, come to think of it, would match his running style perfectly.

Caption contributed by Ed

Finally, a ship that can feel the pain of whomever is on it.

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Anyway, when Seagal appears, we hear the “bad ass” type of hard rock that’s unbelievably hilarious when it’s played to introduce a guy who’s soft and doughy. I’m pretty sure the entrance of a fat guy doesn’t warrant the playing of Jerry Bruckheimer’s greatest hits.

He’s brought down a dark hall in slow motion (I may have to start referring to him as Lamont Cranston if this lighting scheme keeps up) and once again, there are jump cuts of him coming towards the camera. To be honest, these jump cuts I can kind of understand, seeing as how Seagal probably has the land speed of a tortoise. But still, I’d love the chance to kick director Anthony Hickox in the teeth for continually making this dumb editing choice. He’s not a horrible director; the Waxwork movies and that Warlock film he did were okay. He also did a vampire film with Bruce Campbell and David Carradine that I’ve heard is worth checking out. Maybe he just needs good B-movie actors in order to turn out something worthwhile.

Caption contributed by Ed

“Ladies and gentlemen, live from Folsom Prison, the Man in Black, Johnny Cash!”

Anyhow, we get a fade (Jesus, we get it! Your goddamn editor got straight As in his film editing classes! Enough already!), and finally Seagal enters a darkly lit office. Personally, I’ve never been on a naval battleship before, but I’m pretty sure that in the real world, they turn on the damn lights.

Caption contributed by Ed

“What do you mean? I smoke in a badly lit room with no windows or air vents, and I’ve never been healthier!”

The office belongs to the commander of the ship, who’s also shot in shadow (though not to the degree that Seagal is). On the plus side, we’re about to learn a character’s name within thirty seconds of him being introduced.

Commander: What’s the matter, Cody, you forget how to salute?
Cody: Well, that’s kind of frowned on down from where I come from in the stockades. You know?

I’m not certain of the exact percentage, but I can definitely say that Seagal’s voice is dubbed for a good portion of this movie. By somebody who apparently mistook Steven Seagal for Ice-T. Yes folks, our hero is a white guy who goes through most of the movie sounding like a rapper. It really is hilarious to hear him talk, or at least, the guy in ADR pretending to be him.

Anyhow, without any fanfare, Cody is given a folder with photos of the dam, and is told to destroy it. Cody protests, saying he was thrown in jail for doing exactly what he’s being asked to do now. What, following orders in this movie’s world gets you thrown in jail? Wow, is this going to be dumb. Even for a Steven Seagal film.

After some back and forth, Cody gets a full pardon and a hundred thousand dollars, as does every single member of his soon-to-be-introduced “team”. I’m not really sure this is something the commander of an aircraft carrier can really grant or negotiate, but let’s not get too deep into the minute details, or we’ll be stuck on this scene for the rest of our natural lives.

Finally, there’s a little in the way of actual exposition. We find out Fake Hopper’s real name is Adrian Lehder (played by Nick Brimble, who must really wish he was back in that Roger Corman Frankenstein film from sixteen years ago). Lehder is targeted for immediate termination (what, no dinner and a movie first?) and the possibility of rescuing the hostage soldiers is also mentioned.

They’re interrupted by the entrance of Agent Fletcher (played by William Hope, who must really be missing James Cameron after Aliens). He’s assigned to tag along, and make sure Cody “gets good coffee and a change of clothes”. Hmm, you don’t suppose this guy will turn out to be a traitor in league with the bad guys? In a Steven Seagal film? Nah, couldn’t happen.

Cody inquires, “Where my crew?” Sure enough, we meet his crew. In the movie’s most ridiculous moment, the introductions are done in ESPN NFL Draft Day style, complete with a freeze frame of each person in black and white, and a big caption listing their last name, special skills, and military branch.

They are as follows:

  • Henry (Vinnie Jones), an SAS sniper

  • Chief, a British Naval officer skilled in small arms and submarines

  • Luis, an American navigator from the Navy

  • O’Hearn, another British Naval officer, and an engineer good at “dynamic entry”, whatever the hell that is

  • Doc, a US Marine skilled at intelligence gathering, and also a medic (with that nickname, I never would have guessed.)

  • Ender, a US Army explosives expert

  • Rollins, a US Special Forces operative skilled in reconnaissance and small arms

Okay, so I’ll just come right out and say it: out of the seven I mentioned, only Henry will get anything remotely resembling attention from me. Primarily, this is because Vinnie Jones is the Brian Bosworth for the new millennium (anyone remember when the Boz was supposed to be the next big action star? Yeah, me neither). But also, this is because he’s the only member of the team with more than a few lines of dialogue. Granted, he’s just as bland and colorless as the others, but he still stands out for not being completely unmemorable. And also, for being slightly more of an asshole.

There’s a briefing scene here, during which Henry displays the aforementioned unlikable streak. After this, Seagal manages to convince everybody to join up with the mission without giving any actual information about it. End scene. So basically, we just spent several minutes on a really overdone introduction for seven guys we won’t give a crap about. Yep, this is gonna be a short review, folks.

Though, I do notice that Seagal’s trademark pony tail is looking rather ragged in this scene. Maybe he needs to change conditioners. Or, perhaps, just take a shower.

There’s more music from the Bruckheimer Intro Symphonic Synthesized Orchestra as Fletcher comes down the hallway with Fake Lisa Leslie. Um, do these two really warrant that kind of intro music? I mean, our purported hero sure as hell doesn’t, so I fail to see how two supporting characters do.

Anyway, we find out that Fake Lisa Leslie’s real name is Dr. Susan Chappelle (doesn’t matter worth a damn to me, because I’m calling her Dr. J from here on out). And Cody’s full name? Chris Cody. Wow. That’s actually a step down from monikers like Jack Cole, or Mason Storm, or Casey Ryback. I’m sorry, but “Chris Cody” doesn’t sound remotely heroic, unless you’re in a silent western.

Random bits of dialogue establish that the team must go to Lehder’s lab, retrieve anything useful they find there, and destroy the rest. Dr. J wants Cody to know what happened to the first team sent after Lehder, but Fletcher stops her. He notes that the team is expendable, and for that matter, so are he and the good doctor. Well, then. So far, we’ve got most of the standard Seagal clichés covered. Dumb as hell plot that makes no sense? Check. Needlessly stupid paranoia about the government? Check. All we need are a few snapped limbs, and we’ll be all set. [Note from future self: It’ll be a long wait before we get those snapped limbs, so you might want to have a good book handy.]

Cody and his team board a helicopter and leave the Clinton, with Dr. J and Fletcher tagging along. They reach their landing point. Fletcher disembarks, but nobody else does. Immediately, Cody orders the copter to take off, just stranding Fletcher out of the blue.

As it turns out, Cody must be psychic, because just as soon as the helicopter flies off, the ambush team we saw earlier pops up. Fletcher calls Lehder. So, I guess during the inevitable “this guy is good” speech sure to be delivered later on in the movie, we’ll find out how Cody reads palms just as well as he breaks them. At least, I hope so. No, I really do. I need the material. [Note from future self: There’s no “this guy is good” speech in the film. Here, even the characters realize Cody’s a dud. He doesn’t even rate a “this guy is fairly adequate” speech.]

Back in the helicopter, the guy dubbing Seagal suddenly decides he’s an elderly Cajun. Cody points out the team’s new landing area on a map. He notes that it’s closer to the coast. You know, as opposed to the vaguely coastal area where they just landed a few minutes ago.

There’s another irritating transition (Look, changing film stock in the middle of a scene is neither artsy, cool or interesting. It’s pretentious, annoying, and it makes the viewer pray for a sudden onset of blindness.), and this takes us to a bar where we get a rip-off of Karen Allen’s introduction in Raiders of the Lost Ark. (Yeah, that’s never been done before.)

A woman beats a man in arm wrestling, and apparently, it’s strip arm wrestling, because the guy immediately drops his pants. Gee, thank you, movie. What the proceedings were really missing was a reject from an ’80s hair band with no pants in a dimly lit bar. Making matters worse, the girl’s shirt stays on for the rest of the scene.

As she leaves, she gets a call from Cody, telling her to meet up with him and his team. And no, I don’t have the first damn clue what’s going on here. Neither does the film, I assume. Hell, the actors were probably confused for the entire shoot. I’ve seen Mission: Impossible episodes less complex than this film.

Oh, and during this call, Cody sounds a lot like Keanu Reeves. So far, this brings us up to three voices for Cody, none of which actually belong to Steven Seagal. Yes, I’m putting it on the line right here and now, and guessing that at no point in the entire interminable 96 minute running time of this film do we actually hear Steven Seagal’s real voice. Which means that a guy whose energy level was already at “irreversible coma” now needs voice doubles. Jesus, no wonder he came out with an energy drink. (Of course, it reportedly tastes like stagnant toilet bowl water…)

Caption contributed by Ed

“Alright, the loser has to take their shirt off! …Oh, never mind.”

Back on the USS Clinton, there’s a useless scene where all we learn is our commander is actually an Admiral. And yet, he doesn’t have the pull to gets lights installed in his office, let alone on the entire ship?

Cut to a timestamp over Mayan ruins. So, the new landing point is basically the same vaguely coastal area as before, just with some ruins strewn about. There’s exposition in VO about Cody. It seems that he and his team once conducted a mission that pissed off the UN, leading to a political uproar that required Cody and his team to take the fall and go to prison. Yeah, it’s as incoherent as it sounds.

Not long after this, Arm Wrestling Woman is introduced as Damita, and she’s supposedly the best field operative in the business. Whoa, she must really be slumming it then, if she’s working with an out of shape slug and several rejects from The Dirty Dozen. This is followed by a slow motion shot of Cody’s team where, oddly enough, everybody’s packing some serious military hardware except for Cody, who’s carrying a shotgun. Great. So now we’re stuck with Elmer Fudd as an action hero?

You know, I’ve decided to simply refuse to accept that Cody is our hero. I’m convinced he’s going to get killed twenty minutes in, and Kurt Russell will take over. Hell, I’d settle for Nipsey Russell taking over at this point.

Caption contributed by Ed

Steven Seagal in The Dirty Two-Thirds of a Dozen. Coming Soon.

Ed Harris

A fan of less than great cinema since childhood, Ed divides his time between writing scripts, working an actual paying job and subjecting himself willingly to some of the worst films society has produced.

Multi-Part Article: Submerged (2005)

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