12 November 2001 | Invictus
I was watching television the other day, just flipping through the channels when I came upon 'Above the Law'. I hadn't seen this movie in years, and was anxious to watch it again. I must say that I was impressed. I believe it deserves no less than a 9/10. Why? The martial arts in superb as well as the action in general. Moreover, this movie operates on many different levels of meaning.
M.A. Rogers, in his commentary believes that Seagal's behavior contradicts his affirmation that nobody is above the law. This is not so. I believe that his actions are morally justified, inasmuch as there exists in the plot-line no other way for justice to be done. If the police force is corrupt and the C.I.A. are up to no good (not to mention the usually scum), what is one to do? It is therefore up to Toscani (Seagal) to take on a 'poetic license' of sorts and bring the transgressors back to justice.
M.A. Rogers, however, cogently points out in his commentary, that Seagal portrays a double-edged character. On the one hand he is easily angered, while on the other he puts out this "Mr. Cool" who is rife with obnoxious comments. This is why the film does so well. Important also is the scene in which his wife (Sharon Stone) pleads with him. She asks him to put down his 'pride'. She loves him because he is not like other men, but begs him to think of his family and back down. One cannot help, upon viewing this scene, to think of book six of "The Iliad" by Homer, where Andromache pleads with Hektor to stay in Troy for her sake and for the sake of his new-born son Astyanax. The emotion of the scene in Above the Law is heightened because of Seagal's show of restrained emotion: one isn't convinced that he is a 'family man'. He is. His stern face shows that he is a hard man, with a burden on his shoulders and an obligation to save his society as well as his family from an ailment that abounds everywhere. There is lots more to say on the matter, but I will leave that to another commentary. If you are at all a fan of the genre, than you must see it, even if you care only for the action. But I must make it clear that this movie is just as deep and sophisticated as any current drama. One just has to look beyond the surface.
Michael W. Helfield