Movie Reviews: Exit Wounds




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     Warner Bros.
     Steven Seagal plays a tough lone wolf urban detective who's sent to the city’s worst precinct.
     Steven Seagal, DMX, Anthony Anderson, Tom Arnold, David Vadim, Bruce McGill, Bill Dukes, Isiah Washington, Michael Jai White
Bottom Line:


Dunkor Imani

   "Exit Wounds" arrives in theaters riddled with plot holes but pulls through to be a D-plus cop thriller that raises enough questions about the "just-us" system to be decent fodder for a session of "Tonight with Tavis Smiley."
   Based on John Westermann's book of the same name, the cinematic attraction is the gritty, street-based action wrapped around the thuggish, ruggish bones of rapper DMX; and the Santa Claus paunch of Steven Seagal. And what's not to like? Well, the dialogue is pretty much inspired by lame, TV drama cop shows.
   Seagal is one Orin Boyd, a righteous Detroit policeman who can only do wrong in the eyes of his superiors. The movie opens with Boyd saving the VP of the United States ala James Bond style. His reward? He's deemed "out of control and unmanageable" by his boss (Bill Dukes), and sent to the 15th precinct-one of the city's worst. It's where the po-po are corrupt and the brass is more corrupt (with the exception of the precinct commander, Capt. Mulcahy played by Jill Hennessy, formerly of "Law & Order").
   It's not long before Boyd fouls up a police sting operation involving Officer Montini (David Vadim) and Latrell Walker (DMX), causing Mulcahy to demote him to traffic cop. She also forces him into anger management classes to quell his temper.
   However, this is a Seagal movie, so more butt has to be kicked and he's got to get the opportunity to redeem himself. Right?
   Right. And that turning point comes courtesy of 50 kilos of heroin that are stolen from the police station's holding vault. Boyd, smelling a corruptive cop spirit, latches onto Walker and Montini as the main movers of the drugs.
   Make a skull note that this is the movie ("Belly" not withstanding) that bounces DMX to the top of the charts as a potential leading man. He's got that screen presence that fills up each scene, playing a big brother who's determined to do what it takes to get his younger brother out of prison. His involvement leads to drug running, wiretapping-and a fight scene with Boyd that will have audiences rooting hard forthe X man.
   According to Joel Silver, his decision to cast DMX was fueled by the rapper's appearance in "Romeo Must Die," as the club owner, Silk. "When he was killed early in the movie, the audience went crazy," Silver said in an earlier interview.
   Anthony Anderson who was also in "Romeo Must Die," is back as side-kick brother number one, T.K., and along with Tom Arnold, who plays an ingratiating, brownosing talkshow host named Henry, provide the comic relief between director Bartkowiak's violent fisticuffs and bone-crushing car crashes. In fact, their improvised banter at the end of the movie in which they take on fat women, sex and Oprah Winfrey among other issues, is sure to be a much talked about topic (Anderson and Arnold as a comedy team, perhaps?).
   Producer Silver has found an urban recipe that worked with Aaliyah in "Romeo Must Die," and works it again here: team up a hot music star with (don't forget the star's narcissistic soundtrack), a well-known martial artist, add R-rated violence, humor, hot hoochies and Bartkowiak's sizzling car chase scenes; and market accordingly.
   Look for Isiah Washington ("Dancing In September"), in a redemptive role as a caring cop and Boyd's partner; and the muscular Michael Jai White (HBO's "Spawn) as a mysterious precinct boss.



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