In the crime action-thriller End of a Gun, directed and co-written by frequent Steven Seagal collaborator Keoni Waxman (The Keeper, Maximum Conviction), this time finds Seagal playing mall cop and retired DEA agent / military man Michael Decker.
In typical and expected fashion, Seagal has broken 15 bones, put a man’s head through a car window and shot him in the eye within 2 minutes of the film starting. The purpose of the violence is so that Seagal can save damsel-in-distress Lisa Durant (Jade Ewen), a stripper being beaten over a disagreement with her abusive boyfriend. After the dust has settled on this impromptu gunfight, we learn that her boyfriend has $2 million in drug money stashed in the boot of his now impounded car.
The unlikely pair give their statements about the incident, which are warmly and wholly accepted by Seagal’s buddy in the local police force, Jean (Ovidiu Niculescu). With that inconvenient mess now over, Seagal sits to a reflective breakfast and is unexpectedly joined by Lisa, and the pair discuss the big and tempting money with increasing interest and motivation. They ultimately decide to split the proceeds, and begin hatching a plan to boost the funds from within the secure confines of the police compound facility.
The film is stylised in a way that calls to crime thrillers before it, such as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and – in the broadest and most base-level way possible – Pulp Fiction. Seagal’s Decker is a hard man with a gravelly voice and unflinching methodology, and a lot of time is spent developing and reinforcing this notion.
As a dedicated, bordering obsessive fan of the “big bad awesome action movie hero” phase of the late 80’s and early 90’s, there were parts of this film – which at times seems to be approaching self-referential and parody – that I smirked knowingly at, enjoying in a “meat and potatoes” kind of way. Watching an unmistakably bulkier Seagal waltz about in a custom-cut suit, bashing baddies with the utmost economy of movement, called back to those good old days.
However, and for the largest part, this film plays out like a large-portioned yet cheap microwave meal – it’ll ultimately fill a gap, but it is very far from nourishing. Nor is it in any way complex or intriguing. A large theme of this film is its desire to develop the idea that Decker is a hard-boiled, cynical and “seen it all” type guy who is nonetheless honourable. In fact, the back half of the film references this with increasing frequency and force. On the surface, such a theme is completely reasonable, even noble, but simply saying it a bunch of times does not make it so. Here’s why…
Throughout this tale, our “honourable” main man conspires to thieve funds – albeit drug money, breaks into a police compound facility, batters officers (throwing one over the edge of a multi-storey carpark no less), requests sex in exchange for his aid and protection, and manipulates his peaceful and happily married contact in the police force to provide him with backup in what he knows will be a life-and-death standoff.
The film, if not tone deaf, has serious issues in maintaining consistency, is driven by a vast and ultimately non-ironic number of action-thriller tropes and clichés, and fails to sufficiently or ably develop most of the main characters – particularly the villains – to the point whereby the viewer is left largely unmoved and unconcerned by most of the outcomes.
There’s an element of nostalgia here, but nowhere near enough to save the film from itself. End of a Gun is an instantly forgettable, occasionally confusing, and always heavy-handed cliché.
THE REEL SCORE: 3/10