Kill Switch (2008)
By: Craig Villinger on August 13, 2009  | 
Warner Home Video (Australia). Region 2 & 4, PAL. 1.85:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1. English (FHI), Danish, Finish, Norwegian, Swedish Subtitles. 91 minutes
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Jeff King
Starring: Steven Seagal, Holly Dignard, Chris Thomas King, Michael Filipowich, Isaac Hayes
Screenplay: Steven Seagal
Country: USA
External Links
Purchase IMDB YouTube
Just a few months after taking on a pack of post-apocalyptic mutants in Against the Dark Steven Seagal steps into genre friendly territory once again. This time the worlds porkiest action tough guy plays a cop that must contend with not one but two mass murderers in a serial killer thriller that wants to be Se7en with a dash of Dirty Harry but ends up being something a little less exciting.

On the streets of Memphis Detective Jacob King (Seagal) is the law, treating suspects with a level of tenderness that would make Harry Callahan proud. Example: in the opening scene we meet Billy Joel Hill, a serial killer with a fondness for wiring his victims with C4 and watching them go boom from a safe distance. King apprehends Billy Joel, but with the clock ticking down and his latest victim he interrogates the suspect by beating him senseless for about two minutes before kicking his arse out of a third floor window after the day has been saved. Nice work! No time to rest though, because with that case sorted King has to focus on a more pressing issue: a brutal serial killer dubbed "The Grifter" has been a busy boy, and with each murder the killer taunts police by carving astrological symbols into the bodies of his victims – cryptic puzzle pieces that could ultimately reveal his identity. As the body count grows King finds himself under increased pressure to crack the code and solve the case, but his investigation is complicated by the arrival of a nosy FBI agent who frowns upon King's questionable police procedures, and life gets even hairier when he learns that Billy Joel has been released on account of the excessive brutality used during his arrest and is looking for revenge!

Despite being subjected to crap Steven Seagal movies for about, oh, a decade now, I was still giddy with excitement at the thought of seeing yet another new Seagal movie – particularly as this one featured serial killers – but my excitement nosedived after just two minutes when Seagal delivered his first line of dialogue. Seagal, whose reputation has never had anything to do with his acting chops, tries to put on a gen-u-wine southern American accent here, and he sounds bloody awful! He also exceeds at awfulness as the sole screenwriter, delivering a convoluted tale with at least 4 story threads – the hunt for the Lazurus killer, Billy Joel's quest for revenge, the investigation into King's own dubious policing methods, and flashbacks to some traumatic incident from King's childhood - but they are unrelated and don't actually go anywhere. I suspect Seagal might've read a few James Patterson novels and thought he could create the next Alex Cross, but plotting doesn't appear to be the big guy's forte. Seagal's character is also supposed to be some sort of genius, though his investigative techniques are limited to staring at books and beating people up, and while the clues left by the Lazurus killer aren't particularly subtle the biggest break in the case comes when the killer drops his wallet in an alley! Honestly, I think I could've tracked the killer down quicker with the clues provided, and I aint no genius, that's for sure. The fact that I continue to watch Steven Seagal movies is testament to that.

Visually, Kill Switch's thriller elements are handled with a degree of competence – there's an eerie opening sequence which goes back to King's childhood and the death of his twin brother during a game of hide and seek (at least I'm assuming the kid in the flashbacks was supposed to be Seagal's character - the young actor bore no resemblance to Seagal whatsoever though) and at least one sequence where a prostitute is stalked during inclement weather did show traces of tension and atmosphere, but these moments are over shadowed by Kill Switch's appalling action sequences. The editing is hyper-hyper-kinetic (I'm sure they were at least half a dozen cuts per second at times) and the movie also features annoying jump cuts that had me wondering if my DVD was actually scratched. Seagal only makes a cameo appearance in the fight scenes too – we see far too many shots of a stunt double wearing a really bad Seagal wig - and when he does bother to put himself into the action Seagal certainly doesn't burn many calories. One of Kill Switch's biggest gun battles features Seagal doing nothing more than leaning out from a corner and firing a few shots every few seconds!

Kill Switch is a bad film, even by Seagal's recent standards. Honestly, it's a mess, and not in the "Ha ha, look at how bad this movie is" sort of way. As a serial killer thriller it's unimaginative and moronic, and as a martial arts/action pic it's boring over-edited gibberish! Not even Seagal die-hard's will find much to like here, and even the presence of the late Issac Hayes in one of his final roles isn't enough to redeem the film.
Although Seagal's career has been on a downward spiral for a decade or so his movies are still shot on film, so Kill Switch looks reasonably good on DVD. Presented in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio with 16:9 enhancement, this doesn't look quite as good as your average Hollywood blockbuster – the colours are a little flat and grain was noticeable in quite a few shots – but only the most cantankerous of technophiles could find any major faults in the image department.
A 5.1 track is our only option, and while it's rarely dazzling it manages to be perfectly serviceable. The score is immersive and makes frequent use of the surround channels, though the same can't be said for the rest of the sound. Most of the dialogue and sound effects are confined to the front of the sound stage, but for the most part a hyper-active sound mix isn't needed.
Extra Features
Nothing more than a non-anamorphic trailer for Kill Switch.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Oh Steven, why have you forsaken me? I once considered myself a keen Seagal fan, but it might be time to move on. Kill Switch is little more than another example of Seagal's laziness as a leading man, and if he's not going to put much effort into making his movies I don't see why I should put any effort into watching them. Give this a miss and spend your evening watching movies from an era where Seagal actually gave a shit - try Under Siege or Out For Justice for starters.

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