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Mystery Movies - Black Dawn

Buy Black Dawn
Stephen Seagal, Tamara Davies, Mike Baldridge
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2005
100 minutes

My first impression of Black Dawn when I heard the title and saw the box art was not necessarily very good. Steven Seagal, with his “I’m a tough guy” looks, holding a gun, two guys fighting behind him in an unrealistic martial arts pose and to top it off, a huge mushroom cloud of an explosion behind him. Now if that doesn’t spell action movie with an intended audience consisting of males ages 14 to 18, I don’t know what does. That first impression might have kept me from renting Black Dawn, but I remembered that Steven Seagal has done a few action movies that I liked. With that in mind, I set out to watch a pure action movie with an attitude. If those are your expectations, you might actually like this action movie

The plot as explained at the back of the box is one of good guy turned bad guy, but we’re not sure which side he’s on. The dead CIA agent who mysteriously resurfaces. A classic in the genre. Not a new formula, but one which usually brings some level of suspense. His character’s name sounds as if it was made for no other actor than Steven Seagal. His name is Jonathan Cold and he’s as “cold” and serious as the main actor usually acts in his movies. You either like or you don’t. Personally, I wouldn’t act like that, but I don’t particularly mind it. It goes with the territory I guess.

Tamara Davies plays Agent Amanda, a former partner of Cold’s who tries to figure out what this former CIA agent might be doing meddling in the affairs of terrorists. As the hot sexy action movie babe, she does a great job in Black Dawn, and her acting skills help add a little emotion to the film, something you can’t expect Seagal to do. Don’t get the impression that she’s a damsel in distress though. She kicks terrorist butt as much as Seagal throughout Black Dawn. She’s good-looking AND packs a punch. A delight to watch.

Speaking of the bad guys, an interesting point in Black Dawn is that there are two gangs of bad guys and you don’t necessarily know if they trust each other and if they’ll end up shooting at each other. There’s a Chechen terrorist cell, and an arms dealer’s gang, and everybody’s packing heat. The same can be said of the CIA agents. Who’s been turned? Who works for whom? Questions you get to expect when you’ve seen a few movies of this genre.

Now the thing everyone wants to know with such a film is “How are the action scenes?” Well, there’s a lot of action, but not necessarily the kind I expected. When I think Seagal, I usually associate him with martial arts, but to my surprise there are only 2 or 3 scenes that involved them (another reason to question the box art). A lot of the action deals with guns going bang bang, which begs the question: Is Seagal too old to fight? Nevertheless, there is some originality to the movie’s action scenes. For example, there’s a car chase involving a garbage truck. Not the usual getaway car. Let’s be honest, the reason to see such a movie, is action. For this, Black Dawn delivers.

The Black Dawn DVD doesn’t offer much in terms of bonus features. There’s a very short “making of” segment which explains the making of just one scene. It barely lasts 5-6 minutes. There’s also a short interview with Steven Seagal in which the only thing he seems to be telling us is how great and famous he is and how he likes his fans. For Seagal self-worshippers only.

My final thoughts on Black Dawn is that if you don’t mind the “cheesiness” factor of the box art (someone fire that art director) and Steven Seagal’s usual lack of emotion, you just might like this one. The plot has its interesting twists and there’s plenty of action throughout the movie. I wouldn’t say it’s the best Seagal movie I’ve seen, but it isn’t the worst. If you want pure action and a storyline that’s not too hard to follow, you’ll probably enjoy the movie.

Vincent Lemire

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