The Keeper (2009): Breakdown by Kain424
Man On Fire, Seagal style.
Being brutally honest, and even as a fan, one would have to admit that Seagal’s DTV output is usually a mixture of sad and disgraceful with a bit of the trivial and incomprehensible thrown in for a a bitter result. They’re terrible, really. On occasion, however, there is a gem of some quality amid his resumé of bland failures and cinematic mishaps. The Keeper is one of those rare gems.
With a pretty good score and surprisingly competent direction from Keoni Waxman (the director of Dolph Lundgren’s Sweepers), The Keeper manages not only to be watchable, but also contains a decent plot. I credit much of this to the fact that A.) they’ve simplified the story (a rare feature in Seagal movies) and B.) managed to make the Sensei more of a human being than the usual Jason Voorhees of Action.
The story concerns a big city cop who gets betrayed by his partner, shot and left for dead. After killing his wayward partner in a sequence reminiscent of the hospital scenes from Hard To Kill, Seagal is left to recuperate from his wounds. We get to see him experience doubt and later, when he is forced into medical retirement, frustration. The movie then changes location, as Steve heads to Texas to work as a bodyguard for an old friend’s daughter. Moving into Man On Fire territory, the flick later involves kidnapping, blackmail, and all manner of asskickery.
Showing Seagal with some level of weakness is a simple switch-up from the usual Seagal formula but it helps breathe fresh air into the film. Suddenly Seagal is a man with something to prove, and becomes someone with whom we can relate and also like. He actually bothers to give a subtle performance in this one, giving a wink here and a smile there. He seems like a decent enough guy, but just so happens to be able to kill someone in about several dozen different kind of ways.
The Keeper is filmed with a keen eye most of the time, though I think its color palette is a bit bland. Too many faded dark colors and off whites. It gives much of the movie a sort of “dead” look, which doesn’t mesh too well with a suddenly warm and affable Seagal. Still the Action is usually shot well, with plenty of blood effects and decent fight choreography. While I would recommend skipping much of Steve’s DTV “efforts”, this is one of the (very) few worth checking out.
[HOW BAD-ASS IS THE MAIN CHARACTER?]
Steven Seagal is Roland Sallinger
Sallinger is a man hoping to redeem himself in his own eyes. If he can use his skills to assist his friend, he can show that he has some worth. If the police don’t need him, maybe someone else does.
While most Seagal films tend to allow a character or two to provide thrilling monologues about the power of his characters and their usually secret past, The Keeper is content only to occasionally pepper it into a conversation here and there. While one woman in the film’s opening tells Seagal he is an inspiration to every man on the S.W.A.T. team and another person proclaims Seagal is “very smart,” it’s his actions that define him. He rescues a poor Mexican woman from a couple of harassing thugs in one scene and beats down a verbal abuser in a club later. He knows the evil that lies in the hearts of men and understands the only way to combat this force is to beat it out of them. That mouthy sonuvabitch in the nightclub gets beat up, twisted into a pretzel, and then kicked around. HEALED!
The film makers took a page from Under Siege 2‘s book and decided to pair Seagal up with a young woman, becoming a protector of sorts. His relationship with her is the heart of the whole film. And though she may be a bit of a snot, it only goes to further Sallinger’s character that he would be so tenacious in his pursuit to protect her.
Sallinger is mysteriously proficient in Aikido and knives. In fact, he is brutally efficient in both. Only his marksmanship rivals his frightening efficiency with blades. Sallinger seems to prefer to stab his victims, but maybe it’s just good exercise. And just how bad-ass is he? He got shot twice in the heart and survived to kill his would-be assassin while still in his hospital bed.
[THE BODY COUNT: 28]
While most of the deaths are the result of Seagal stabbing and gunning his way through the hired bodies of the film’s antagonist, the bad guys do manage to shoot down of few of the forces of good. He gets several bloody knife deaths, a couple broken necks, some by roadkill, and one guy gets the honor of being beat to death by his fists. Nothing too grotesque, but one fella does get a hand shoved, fingers-first, into his throat. Seagal ends the flick with an impressive 23 kills.
[MOST SATISFYING DEATH]
While I did enjoy the main baddie’s head thug finally getting his brutal demise, my favorite kill was to be found at an earlier point in the film. After a car chase turns into a foot pursuit, a biker drives by Seagal and knocks his gun from his hand.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Roland Sallinger produces a big-ass throwing knife and chucks it into the bikers throat. This produces an awesome and gory death. Hurray for DTV!
[DUDESWEAT AND MACHISMO]
“What’s the matter? Don’t you like women?”
Though Seagal claims he does indeed like women, he shows absolutely no interest in any of the nude ones featured so prominently in the film. Not the hottie who visits him in the hospital and home, nor the young, naked hooker he puts into another man’s lap. Instead, he refers to the latter as a “stanky-ass ho” and goes on with his seemingly asexual ways.
[EXPLOITATION AND MISOGYNY]
From a scene showcasing a man snorting blow off a hooker’s ass to a woman randomly flashing her flesh pillows in a nightclub, it’s pretty well established that woman are objects. They are property for pleasure of pawns for pursuit. The Keeper‘s leading lady is a whiny rich kid who can’t seem to straighten her life out, falling for an insidious prick amateur boxer one second and throwing up her one drink from a nightclub the next.
And for fun, the film makers decided to throw in a midget hispanic woman with the biggest breasts I have ever seen. Relevance to the plot? Well…did you see the size of those titties!?
[EPIC MOMENT AND BEST ONE-LINER]
The villains set up the trade, the girl for the goods. The whole thing will go down on their territory by their rules. But Seagal has different plans. Taking out the guys our antagonist has positioned around the perimeter, Seagal doesn’t kill one of them fast enough. Alerted to the presence of intruders, the main baddie’s right hand man asks for a status report from his dead flunkies.
Seagal gets on the mic and reveals it is he, The Bodyguard, who has infiltrated their perimeter, and unleashes his own order:
“Now, tell your bitches to put down their guns…”
“Or I’ll kill every fuckin’ one of you.”
[THE MORAL OF THE STORY]
Live a moral and honest life, always putting others before you. Tell the truth to your friends and be careful who you fall in love with. If you don’t, Steven Seagal will beat you, break you, shoot you, stab you, kick you, and THEN kill you.
[THE SYMPTOMS OF SEAGAL: 4 outta 5]
[X] Background With Government Organization
[X] Performs An Overkill
[X] Snaps A Bad Guy’s Appendage
[X] Speaks Another Language
[ ] Sports a Ponytail
[THE CHECKLIST: 14 outta 25]
[X] Athlete(s) Turned “Actor”
[ ] Clinging To The Outside Of A Moving Vehicle
[X] Crotch Attack
[X] Dialogue Telling Us How Bad-Ass The Main Character(s) Is/Are
[X] Ending Featuring An Ambulance, A Blanket or A Towel
[ ] Factory/Warehouse
[X] Giant Explosion(s)
[ ] Heavy Artillery
[X] Improvised Weapon(s)
[X] Macho Mode(s) Of Transportation
[X] Main Character Sports Facial Accessory(s)
[ ] Manly Embrace(s)
[ ] Notorious Stunt-Man Sighting
[X] Passage(s) Of Time Via Montage
[ ] Politically Fueled Plot Point(s)
[X] Senseless Destruction Of Property
[X] Shoot Out(s) and/or Sword Fight(s)
[X] Slow-Motion Finishing Move(s)/Death(s)
[ ] Stupid Authoritative Figure(s)
[X] Substance Usage and/or Abuse
[ ] Tis The Season
[ ] Torture Sequence(s)
[ ] Unnecessary Sequel
[X] Vehicle Chase(s)
[ ] Vigilante Justice