Black Dawn (2005)

Black DawnCountry: United States
Director: Alexander Gruszynski
Starring: Steven Seagal, Tamara Davis, Timothy Carhart, John Pyper Ferguson, Julian Stone, Nicolas Davidoff, David St James
Music: David and Eric Wurst
AKA: The Foreigner: Black Dawn and Foreigner 2

I know Steven Seagal is not known for his emoting on screen, and as such most of his characters seem the same, but in this particular instance we have met his character, Jonathan Cold before, in the turkey, The Foreigner. Out of all the crap that Seagal has pumped out over the last few years, I find it strange that the film-makers should pick this one to make a sequel to. Maybe it’s an apology?

Black Dawn starts in a rather frenetic fashion with MTV jump cut titles and a shootout in Amsterdam financial district, where a gang of Chechen terrorists (although they call themselves a ‘resistance group’), assault an armoured car carrying diamonds, and make off with the loot. In fact this is just one of several similarly styled robberies that the terrorists have committed. They are stockpiling the diamonds to buy a nuclear weapon.

When we first meet Jonathan Cold, he is about to break into a Federal Detention Centre in Utah. Posing as a doctor, he makes his way to the sick-bay, and injects one of the patients with…well something. They don’t really say. But this injection has a pretty nasty effect on the inmate. He starts to convulse and froth at the mouth. Still posing as a doctor, Cold orders the patient moved to the nearest hospital. The inmate is placed in an ambulance and rushed out of the prison.

Now this was no ordinary prisoner. This guy, Michael Donavan (Julian Stone) is in fact, one of the world’s premier arms dealers. Why did Cold spring him? Well, after the events in The Foreigner, Cold no longer works for the C.I.A. He is a mercenary for hire. And Donovan has employed him, not just to free himself from jail, but also because Cold just happens to be an expert on Nuclear Weapons.

But because Donavan is such a bad boy, the C.I.A. have staked out his warehouses and are watching his cronies, including his psychopathic brother, James (John Pyper Ferguson). When Michael, and Jonathan Cold turn up, after the prison break, the C.I.A. operative watching the warehouse is a little shocked. Her name is Amanda Stuart (Tamara Davies), and she was trained by Jonathan Cold. It is upsetting for her to see her former teacher, now working for the bad guys.

Meanwhile, the Chechen terrorists have landed on American soil and are planning the final phase of their operation. That is, buying and then detonating a nuclear weapon on American soil. And who do you think the seller is? You got it!

Black Dawn is unusual for a Seagal film because it barely features any martial arts at all. In fact, it looks as though most of the stunts and fight scenes were filmed by a stunt double. Very strange, because that is how Seagal came to prominence, through his Akeido skills. Now, if he is too old, or out of shape to perform these scenes, it begs the question – why does he keep doing it? (Oh yeah, the money!)

I must admit I was pleasantly surprised by Black Dawn. It actually plays like a spy film, rather than another noisy revenge flick. But don’t take my words the wrong way. This is not a great film, but it is light years ahead of its sleep-inducing predecessor and better than most of the violent dross that Seagal has managed to put out over the last few years. I wouldn’t go tracking it down, but if it was on TV at three in the morning and you have insomnia, it’s worth a look.

5 Comments Posted in Film and Cinema
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  1. FYI — When I said I’d been avoiding reading your recent reviews because they were films coming up in my viewing queue, I meant The Osterman Weekend. Not this.

    Not. This.

  2. Wot, no love for Seagal? 😉

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