Under Siege (1992): 30 Years Later

Plot: A heroic loner takes on a group of nuclear terrorists in this seagoing yarn. Posing as a rock band, the terrorists get themselves hired for a party aboard the USS Missouri, a battleship en route to Pearl Harbor for decommissioning. They plan to steal the ship’s nuclear arsenal but haven’t reckoned on the intervention of the ship’s chef, a decorated former Navy SEAL.

I know technically Under Siege was released in October 1992, but I was still recovering from eye surgery in October this year and missed it, so I wanted to do a quick post to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary.

I remember seeing Under Siege three times in the theatre when it first came out as back in the day when we got new action movies on the big screen, I’d see them as much as I could.

To this day it’s one of Steven Seagal’s best films and it may be the biggest budgeted one too. He removed his signature ponytail for the role due to Navy regulations which admittedly took some getting used to for me.

During the 90’s we would regularly see Die Hard clones usually described as “Die Hard on a…” and Under Siege was of course Die Hard on a Boat.

Reuniting Seagal and Above the Law director Andrew Davis is clearly a recipe for success although according to various interviews Davis has stated he was more interested in working with Tommy Lee Jones rather than Seagal.

Seagal brings his usual swagger to the character of Casey Ryback and has some fun one-liners while also beating up and killing bad guys at regular intervals.

You see every penny of the budget on screen and it’s well paced, rarely slowing down where every scene feels necessary to the plot (especially the cake scene because reasons). As much as we all enjoy the cake scene I’ve always found Erika Eleniak’s character mildly annoying but she isn’t too bad and I’ve seen far worse.

Tommy Lee Jones chews the scenery as the villain William Strannix (has anyone ever met anyone called Strannix?) and personally it’s one of my favourite roles of his. He is genuinely unhinged but his rant about Saturday morning cartoons is hilarious. Every classic action movie required Gary Busey to bring the crazy and Under Siege is no different and we even get to see him in drag which is one of the film’s many highlights.

It has an excellent supporting cast including Colm Meany, Andy Romano, Nick Mancuso and Patrick O’Neal in one of his final roles.

Gary Chang provides the score which isn’t remarkable but it does the job required of it even if it could do with a more memorable theme.

Overall, after 30 years Under Siege is still one of Steven Seagal’s best films (and I also love the sequel) with fantastic action scenes, lots of one-liners, some gratuitous nudity and Tommy Lee Jones in scene stealing form.