The Steven Seagal experience returns to the multiplexes after a two- to three-year absence. Its star allegedly has spent the intervening years slimming down and buffing up.
Still, while every hair remains resolutely in place, Seagal seems to strain more than usual in "Exit Wounds" to hold up both his Dick Tracy visage and Bruce Lee swagger. Where once he would have insisted on dominating every set piece and sequence, Seagal seems almost relieved to let the younger, buffer guys in the cast do the heavy lifting and stylized leaping. Perhaps he's also become magnanimous during his hiatus.
Why does one call it an "experience"? Because you couldn't really call "Exit Wounds" a story. It's a pastiche of pulpy elements culled from all the "Dirty Harry" movies you can think of, beginning with a can-we-have-your-attention opener in which Seagal's character, detective Orin Boyd, single-handedly thwarts a right-wing militia attack on the vice president of the United States, blowing things up real good.
But this story isn't about a militia. Oh, no. It's about Seagal's Boyd being punished for his heads-up play by being dispatched to Detroit's dreaded 15th Precinct, which seems to be a weight room for muscle-bound bully-boy cops patrolling an at-risk neighborhood.
The only ones not playing with stun guns are the predictably no-nonsense commander (Jill Hennessy) and a straight-arrow patrolman (Isaiah Washington).
Meanwhile, there's this sharpie named Latrell Walker (rapper DMX), who looks for all the world like the drug-dealing demon driving this neighborhood down.
Boyd soon realizes that all is not what it seems in this dark fun ride. But who cares? This Saturday night special of a movie exists only to let cars and bodies collide with one another at top speed.
The load is lightened a bit by some rib-jabbing jokiness. (Seagal sits in on an anger-management class.) They'll love it in Hong Kong. Or not.
Speaking of which, there's a closing-credit sequence in which Anthony Anderson, playing Latrell's henchman, and Tom Arnold as a nerdy Jerry Springer engage in a hilarious give-and-take that's funnier than most full-length comedies these days. Maybe you'll get your money's worth if you come in late.
MPAA rating: R, for strong violence, language and some sexuality/nudity. Times guidelines: Everything is way over the top.
Steven Seagal: Orin Boyd
DMX: Latrell Walker
Isaiah Washington: George Clark
Anthony Anderson: T.K.
Michael Jai White: Strutt
Bill Duke: Hinges
Jill Hennessy: Mulcahy
Warner Bros. presents, in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment, a Silver Pictures production, released by Warner Bros. Director Andrzej Bartkowiak. Producers Joel Silver, Dan Cracchiolo. Executive producer Bruce Berman. Screenplay by Ed Horowitz and Richard D'Ovidio. Cinematographer Glen Macpherson. Editor Derek G. Brechin. Costume designer Jennifer Bryan. Music Jeff Rona and Damon "Grease" Blackman. Production designer Paul Denham Austerberry. Art director T. Arc Grewal. Set decorator Jaro Dick. Running time: 1 hour, 41 minutes.