The Glimmer Man
1996, R, 91 min. Directed by John Gray. Starring Steven Seagal, Keenan Ivory Wayans, Bob Gunton, Brian Cox, Michelle Johnson.
REVIEWED By Joey O'Bryan, Fri., Oct. 11, 1996
When it comes to Steven Seagal movies, the first question that comes to mind isn't really “Is it any good?” but rather, “How bad is it?” It might be a minority opinion, but I've always found Seagal's so-called “good movies” (i.e., the depressingly formulaic Under Siege pictures) terribly dull in comparison to his less-than-highly touted efforts, which are often stellar examples of the kind of “so-bad-it's-good” filmmaking that has become all too rare in today's increasingly bland mainstream cinema. (In fact, I'd consider the critically scorned On Deadly Ground, which Seagal also directed, to be among one of the most perversely enjoyable bad movies of the 1990s.) Unfortunately, his latest vehicle, The Glimmer Man (the title alone inspires ridicule), is just far too generic to reach the levels of badness that might have made it truly entertaining, even if all the tried-and-true elements of his funniest movies -- outrageous wardrobe choices, unimaginable sadism, self-penned tough-guy rock ditties on the soundtrack, and, of course, that ever-present, hysterically one-note brooding glare -- are firmly in place. At least this time out an attempt has been made to curb Seagal's suffocating, all-encompassing narcissism by teaming him up with a far more likable, jovial co-star, namely In Living Color alumnus Keenan Ivory Wayans, whose career in motion pictures has been something of a disappointment since his first effort, the hilarious blaxploitation spoof I'm Gonna Get You Sucka. Too bad Seagal and Wayans share little chemistry in their clichéd roles as a pair of mismatched L.A. cops who become drawn into a sinister conspiracy while hunting a brutal serial killer. If they had worked well together, they might have been able draw attention away from Kevin Brodbin's illogical and poorly constructed screenplay, John Gray's ham-fisted direction (he shamelessly cops the movie's dreary, rain-soaked atmosphere from last year's far superior Seven), and Donn Cambern's surprisingly incompetent editing (hard to believe this is the same guy whose excellent work on Romancing the Stone earned him an Oscar nod). True enough, Wayans does manage to wring a laugh or two out of this lame-duck material, and there is at least one superb stunt (Wayans leaps head-first out of a third-story window as the building explodes behind him), but for the most part, The Glimmer Man is simply a spectacular belly-flop of an action movie -- neither good enough nor bad enough to be anything but instantly forgettable, though not necessarily painless.