Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

No sooner than I popped open this word processor to get to the business of having some fun with Steven Seagal’s latest Straight-to-Video extravaganza did I receive news that earlier today, August 10th 2008, Isaac Hayes passed away.  This is relevant because Mr. Hayes is a co-star in this movie and though we will get around to trashing this movie shortly, I just feel it’s necessary to pay my respects to the man who gave us arguably the greatest movie song ever, with possibly only the theme from ‘The Magnificent Seven’ coming close, and also starred (IMHO) in the greatest of all the blaxploitation flicks ‘Truck Turner’.  There are people far more knowledgeable about the life of Isaac Hayes and can speak of the man with way more eloquence that I ever could, I just felt it was necessary for take this time to say rest in eternal peace Mr. Hayes.

Now about ‘Kill Switch’, which I should mention is one of those Action Movie Generator names like ‘Sudden Impact’ or ‘Extreme Fatalities’ in that as far as I could tell there were no kill switches in this particular film.  Our film opens at a birthday party where twins Jacob and Daniel Green are enjoying the festivities when Daniel runs off to play hide and seek while Jacob searches for him and finds him just in time to see his throat slit by some weird dude in the forest.  Fast forward forty five or so years and the surviving twin Jacob has grown into a genius, hard edged, portly aikido Memphis police officer who has just found a hooker with a bomb stitched into her titty.  What we have is one of those red wire / black wire deals and the only person who knows which wire to cut is the very evil Billy Joe Hill (Mark Collie).  Detective Jacob then gently has a discussion with the lunatic and manages to persuade him into telling him which wire to cut.  The first issue of this movie shows up in this rather protracted fight sequence as the onus for creating the action in this, and subsequent scenes, was placed directly on the shoulders of Seagal’s stuntman and the film editor as there were so many quick cuts, close-ups, flashes and blurs that it’s almost dizzying.

As if Billy Joe isn’t enough for Jacob and his erstwhile partner Storm Anderson (Chris Thomas King), there is also another serial killer around named Lazarus (Michael Filipowich) who is putting ciphers on his dead bodies like our man the Zodiac Killer used to do back in the day, and also draining the blood of his victims. We should also mention that actor Chris Thomas King is sporting a rather mean Shag in this movie. For those who don’t know, a Shag would be the African American equivalent of a mullet. Attempting to give Jacob some critical clues in this serial killing case is Medical Examiner ‘Ice’ Bohannen (Hayes) who really doesn’t do a hell of a lot of M.E. Quincy type stuff in this movie, except talk cool and sound smooth as only Isaac Hayes can. Serving as a thorn in Jacob’s side is green FBI agent Frankie Miller (Holly Dignard) who has been sent down by Washington to see why these Memphis idiots can’t solve the case. Worst yet, despite fact that Billy Joe has killed some old lady and stitched a bomb into some hookers tit, he’s back out on the street messing folks up real bad. Yes, not one but TWO serial killers for your entertainment dollar that our Memphis detective with the Cajun accent needs to worry about. Whatever. There’s a stuntman standing nearby just waiting to beat the hell out of both of them fools.

Now… something went terribly wrong along the way in this movie ‘Kill Switch’ because at its core it’s a completely serviceable Straight-to-Video Seagal-esque action flick, but everything around this core is really messed up. Seagal is listed as screenwriter for this thing, and if this is true, then he really needs to stop writing stuff. There were some minor issues, one in particular that bugged me was when Detective Jacob went to the library to ask the bitchy librarian for some help to find a particular quote a killer left behind, leaving him to scour through tons of books. Dude, it’s 2008 and Google is your friend, or Yahoo or Clusty if you so choose. Three seconds flat and you got your answer. Or when Jacob got into a big fight with Lazarus and got his wallet, but didn’t bother to go to his place of residence until the next day, after he had breakfast and lunch with his excuse being ‘oh, he’s long gone by now’. Well, if you had gone to his crib IMMEDIATELY, you might have caught his ass and saved a life or two detective Jacob. There are other major issues though within the narrative such as the twin getting killed at the beginning of the film. Often Jacob flashbacks to this, but as far as I could tell it had absolutely nothing to do with anything in this movie. Then there was the plot twist of the Lazarus dude attempting to frame Jacob for some of the murders which was a completely throw away plot point that was never close to developed. But by far the most confusing aspect of this film was the final scene. SPOILERS: Jacob disappears from sight after killing Billy Joe and the next time we see him he is with some Russian woman and two little kids bringing them gifts. The Russian woman then gets naked. Who is she? We don’t know. Who are the kids? I guess they are his since they are calling him pops, but we’re not sure. How long after the Billy Joe death scene is this scene taking place? We don’t know. Is this Jacob or maybe it’s the dead twin David, we don’t know. Seriously, that scene should have been completely left out as its only, and I mean only purpose, was to confuse.

The action was decent as I am way used to seeing more of Steve’s stunt doubles than Steven himself, Seagal wrote himself some decent one-liners such as ‘You killed her to get to me when all you had to do was call my mutha fuckin’ name.’ Sweet. Plus Steve actually tried to act in this one, though I’ve spent a large portion of my childhood in Memphis and NEVER heard anybody speak like that. However there were too many branching and unresolved parts of an extremely sloppy script for this movie to truly be above average, like I though his last three films were. Not ‘Attack Force’ bad by any means, but still a step in the wrong direction for Mr. Seagal who was doing so well.  Relatively speaking.

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