Maximum Conviction Blu-ray
One of the worst things you can say about a film is that it is lazy. That’s exactly what MAXIMUM CONVICTION is. It is lazy filmmaking with a star that seems to be going through the motions. The star in this case is Steven Seagal. Seagal has never been a great actor even in his heyday. His natural minimalist approach appealed to many people who disliked action heroes more concerned with amusing quips. This worked greatly for Seagal in his early hits like UNDER SIEGE and HARD TO KILL. Seagal turned 60 this year. Of course with advancing age, you get an advancing waistline and your movements are slower. Seagal now moves at a glacial pace and it isn’t exactly believable when he dispatches people half his age without breaking much of a sweat. He doesn’t make any kind of effort with his line readings. A corpse could show more of a pulse than Seagal does. All of these things are working against him and it shows up on screen.
Seagal plays a former Marine named Steele, who is in charge of closing down decommissioned military bases or a prison in this case. Think Guantanamo Bay. Steele has his own crew that he runs that brings its own set of skills (The comparisons to THE EXPENDABLES are quite obvious). These are private contractors that work off the radar and gets things done without getting noticed. It would have been great if the camaraderie was better established. You honestly don’t get the connection that these men have for each other. The base houses four nasty prisoners and two female prisoners that come in before everyone is supposed to be transported to a federal prison.
One of the draws of this film is Steve Austin starring for the first time with Seagal. Austin plays Manning. He is what you would describe as the muscle of Steele’s team. Here is where director Keoni Waxman and screenwriter Richard Beattie make a big mistake. These two action titans barely have any scenes together. They are mostly chasing around the bad guys in different parts of the base. It is just a wasted opportunity that will surely upset the many fans of these two.
The bad guys in MAXIMUM CONVICTION are after one of the female prisoners and important information that she has. Michael Pare as Chris Blake leads this group with brutal efficiency. He cuts off one guy’s finger just to get into a room that takes finger print access. Waxman really does not have much for Blake to do. He basically shouts orders and looks at various monitors. That’s it. You really don’t get his essence so to speak.
It is good when action films throw some surprises here and there. You want to get a feeling that everyone is at risk and in danger. You don’t get that sense here. As noted earlier, Seagal’s fight scenes are laughable. I don’t think anyone lays a hand on him. He is the producer so that is his prerogative, but it sure makes things boring for the audience. At least Austin gets a little bloody. There is also a startling lack of levity in the proceedings. It is a bit too serious. Austin throws in some quips, but not nearly enough. The one surprising reveal of a bad guy isn’t surprising at all. You can spot it a mile away.
The filmmaking technique of Waxman should also be questioned. The scenes are too dark for their own good. It isn’t fun to have so much trouble making out what is going on. Filming in boiler rooms and kitchens can be enjoyable and exciting if presented the right way. Here it is murky and nondescript. There is extensive use of security cameras to show where everyone is on the base. The puzzling aspect of this use is when the cameras get static. This is something that horror movies do, but it really is unneeded here. It is just a cheap effect showing that bad things are happening or about to happen. Well duh.
MAXIMUM CONVICTION could have been nice low budget thriller, but you will get more thrills out of a “Golden Girls” episode. The ending hints at a sequel. The world should shudder at the thought.
Video (1.78:1): There isn’t much to recommend about the transfer. It is too dark and shaded all wrong. This may be an unfair criticism with the location of the film, but it still should have been better.
Audio: The Dolby TrueHD 5.1 doesn’t bring anything to the table. It honestly could be a regular DVD. You can’t tell at all that this is Blu-ray. The crackle of the gun play should pop instead of being so muted. The dialogue wasn’t always clear. It doesn’t help that Seagal mumbles a lot of his lines though.
Commentary with Executive Producer/Director Keoni Waxman and Co-Executive Producer Binh Dang: This is the best of the extra features. Both men talk specifically of the scenes and sets. There are some interesting tidbits like that the film was kicked off its location for the upcoming “Superman” movie. Waxman also is candid about things that didn’t work like the monitors. He did seem to like the use of the security cameras however. Dang explains his role in choreographing fight scenes with Seagal. Overall this is quite informative and better than this movie deserves.
Maximum Conviction: Behind the Scenes (10:00): Nothing revealing here. People talk about how great a director Waxman is and what an honor to work with Seagal.
Maximum Conviction: Steve Austin (1:47): Austin talks about the acting craft and the differences between acting in wrestling and movies. Austin’s description of the differences was interesting.
Maximum Conviction: Icons (1:40): The director speaks about the two male leads. Austin expresses his admiration for Seagal, while Seagal opens up about how he makes films. Once again this really is a throwaway feature.
Maximum Conviction: Bren Foster (1:21): The actor expresses his thrill of using his martial arts skills. It would have been good if Foster was able to go over his big fight sequence. Not to be though.