8 January 2007 | ccthemovieman-1
The Good & Bad Of 'Fire Down Below'
Since I haven't seen this since the turn of the 21st century, it would be interesting to see again just to see Marg Helgenberger. I really wasn't that familiar with her when I saw this movie a couple of times in the late '90s, although I had seen her before. However, now she's a very familiar face thanks to the hit CSI television show.
Anyway, the movie was a typical Steven Seagal film in that he's the likable hero, you had despicable villains that were easy to hate, and every action scene is Rambo-like in which Seagal never misses injuring his foes.
One big difference in this film from his earlier efforts: an emphasis an aesthetic cinematography. This had some beautiful rural scenes of Kentucky and in particular, a church on a top of a hill, in which a number of scenes take place. Not only is the country scenery nice but there are some good country songs in here and better yet - blues guitar music in the background throughout the movie. All of this was different for a Seagal film. Of course, the nice scenery was probably due to the fact Seagal played an Environmental Protection Agent ("Jack Taggart").
Also different was the fact that Helgenberger ("Sarah Kellogg") was not the typical gorgeous young sexpot normally paraded out in these martial arts films, but was rather plain with no makeup. She wore conservative clothing and showed no skin. (Contrast that to her CSI roles the past six years) Then again, Appalachia being the setting for this story, her dress and manner was appropriate and realistic.
Language-wise, most of the hard profanity comes from Kris Kristofferson's villain character, "Orrin Hammer, Sr.," in the first hour.
How they treated "religion" in this film was bizarre. Good, bad, good, bad - like watching a tennis match. The country reverend was the typical Hollywood wishy-washy minister: the kind would NOT see in this area in real life. The screenwriters are so clueless Seagal called him - a Protestant minister - "father" - as if he was a Catholic. Anyway, the wimpy reverend does "come around" at the end.
More examples: good-guy Seagal bows his head in prayer at church but also tells Helgenberger that "I don't hand out bibles." He also mentions UFOs and Zen to a sick little boy but also mentions "God's work" other times. He covers all the bases, I guess, from occult to the real thing. The bad guys attend church, but then they burn it down! Harry Dean Stanton tells someone that "church people talk down the others," but the next scene something positive is shown. I'm telling you: the theology in here would make your head swim.
Seagal plays a smug kind of guy but his smugness doesn't translate into an offensive jerk, perhaps because his character is so soft-spoken and he is, after all, the good guy. Every action scene in here is a Rambo imitation in which Segal beats up his opponents no matter how many of them are against him. It's ludicrous. Yet, most of the time it's enjoyable enough to watch and the sound-effects on those fights are actually entertaining, almost humorous.
About the film, I still like the blues guitar and the Kentucky scenery the best. The rest of it is pure Seagal nonsense....but entertaining.