Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. /USA, . , , , , . Screenplay by . Cinematography by . Produced by , , . Music by . Production Design by . Costume Design by . Film Editing by , , , . Academy Awards 1992.
A surprise birthday party for the captain of the battleship U.S.S. Missouri turns out to be the cover for a terrorist attack, as crazed former CIA operative Tommy Lee Jones and his crew get on board disguised as a band and then shoot up a portion of the crew and hold the rest hostage in the ship’s forecastle. Their takeover has been facilitated by treacherous XO commander Gary Busey, and their plan is to take control of the nuclear weapons on board and demand a ransom from the U.S. government. They are threatening to take out millions of lives in nearby Hawaii, but there’s one particular element that they did not prepare for and now have to deal with: the captain’s personal cook is actually a Navy SEAL, and he is played by , which means he’s going to kill everyone while delivering dialogue in a manner that makes the rest of us want to die. Seagal works his way from the kitchen to the bridge one body at a time, accompanied by a terrified but capable Playboy bunny (played with admirable courage by , who never balks at the ridiculous situations the script comes up with to get some female action into this movie), whom Seagal at first protects before turning her into a gun-toting asset. Director Andrew Davis leaves the goriest of the violence off screen but there’s plenty of it to enjoy in this well-plotted and richly shot adventure that does its best to work its way around Seagal’s limited acting skills, though it never really does; between that flat voice and expressionless face there’s little one can do about how much charisma the man lacks, not to mention that very few of his hands-on combat moves seem particularly credible, but the setting and the glee with which the Die Hard On a Boat story is told make it easy to see why it’s his most successful movie.