Out of Reach (2004) Movie Review

“Out of Reach” is the nth Steven Seagal movie to go straight to video, is helmed by a Hong Kong director, stars Seagal as a Super Duper Martial Arts Guy With a Mysterious Past, and is set in a foreign locale. It’s also the strangest Seagal movie I’ve seen, not to mention being the most unintentionally funny.

Seagal stars as William Lancing, a Super Duper Martial Arts Guy With a Mysterious Past who once worked for a Super Duper Secret Government Agency but has since quit to live a life of solitude in the woods. Lancing passes the time by patching up wounded birds and writing to his pen pal, an orphan girl name Irena, in Poland. But the strange thing is, although we see Seagal “writing” the letters, the voiceover that “reads” the letters is provided by someone other than Seagal. Trust me, when you’ve seen as many Seagal movies as I have, you can tell when Seagal’s voice is being dubbed. In the course of the film, I’d guess that about half of Seagal’s dialogue (and most of the dialogue where Seagal isn’t onscreen) is dubbed in.

After Irena is taken from the orphanage by Evil Mastermind Faisal, played by perennial Nasty Villain Matt Schulze (who played the Nasty Villain in “Torque” and “Transporter”, to name just a few), Lancing arrives in Poland to bust some heads. He teams up with a hot blonde cop who has issues of her own, and the two go after an International Conspiracy getting rich from trafficking young girls. And oh yeah, the Super Duper Secret Government Agency that Lancing used to work for follows him to Poland determined to “tie up loose ends”; they do this by helping Faisal. You know, I’d think my Super Duper Secret Government Agency would be at least beyond helping a snakehead just to cap some ex-agent, but maybe I’m just too much of an optimist.

For a Seagal movie, “Out of Reach” is surprisingly short on action. There are some spurts of action in the beginning, a few more in the middle, but that’s about it until the final action set piece when Seagal and the hot blonde cop take on a gaggle of gunmen in a brothel that looks suspiciously like a hastily put-together set. Later, Seagal waltzes into Faisal’s completely unguarded mansion and has it out with the baddie using swords. Of note in this later scene has Faisal actually getting in some good shots at Seagal. This, and a scene in “Belly of the Beast” where Seagal proves to be just as human, is an intriguing trend. In his old age, is Seagal finally, at last, starting to let go of the notion that all his characters must be invincible? I dare not make such grand leaps in hope.

As mentioned, most of “Out of Reach” is strange and unintentionally funny. There’s that whole thing about Seagal’s voice being obviously dubbed over. Even stranger is that we get to hear what people think, including the villainous thoughts of the villainous Faisal. It’s a pretty weird device and was probably inserted later on in post-production when the filmmakers realized their film simply didn’t make things clear enough, so they added further exposition via intrusive voiceover in case any of Seagal’s dwindling fan base were too thick to “get” the hackneyed plot.

Even if you like Steven Seagal’s brand of mindless mayhem, I’m not sure if there’s enough “Seagal” in this one to satisfy even the most undemanding Seagal aficionado. There just doesn’t seem to be enough action, at least compared to Seagal’s recent films like “Out For a Kill” and the aforementioned “Belly of the Beast”. The other thing that might interest some people is that Seagal seems to have thinned out quite a bit. In fact, there seems to be two Seagals running around in “Out of Reach”: the bloated Seagal, who shows up in the beginning, and a slightly thinner Seagal, who shows up about halfway through the movie.

In short, “Out of Reach” is a Seagal film. If you like Seagal films, you’ll probably like anything the guy does. If not, then this one will come across as if Seagal was trying even less than before, and the result is one unintentionally wacky film. I don’t think anyone expects Seagal’s films to have strong narrative spines, but it’s nevertheless rather bewildering to behold just how incoherent this latest offering is. And lastly, after “Out for Justice” and “Out for a Kill”, isn’t it just a little bit too early to re-use “Out” in yet another movie title? Just a thought.

Po-Chih Leong (director) / Trevor Miller (screenplay)
CAST: Steven Seagal …. William Lancing
Ida Nowakowska …. Irena
Matt Schulze …. Faisal
Agnieszka Wagner …. Kasia Lato

Buy Out of Reach on DVD