The city is rocked by a series of underworld murders, as a bereaved ex-special forces operative (Steven Seagal) uses his military skills to wage a one-man war on crime. An ex-protégé turned federal agent arrives on the scene to track him down, setting the state for a brutal confrontation between vigilante and lawman.
What a doozy this one was. For those who can remember, Seagal was once an action/martial arts star who rivalled his late 80s/early 90s contemporaries, with modest hits like Above the Law and Under Siege 1 and 2 giving him a reasonably large profile for action fans. About halfway through the 90s something… happened, and by the time the 00s rolled around, Seagal’s work was almost entirely of the direct-to-DVD variety. Which brings us to Code of Honor.
Anyone ever read The Punisher comic books? Because this is like that, but much worse. Seagal’s vigilante (cleverly dubbed the ‘super-vigilante’ by the police) sets up ambushes on drug dealers, pimps, and various other low-lifes, before terminating them in a hail of bullets and CGI blood. As per standard Seagal fare, he is utterly unstoppable, even though the actor’s advancing age means that he doesn’t indulge much in the martial arts shenanigans any more.
To be honest, even though it’s cheap, sleazy and silly, I could almost forgive it – I often find mainstream action films a little too sanitised for my tastes, so something schlocky now and then can be welcome. But then we get to the finale, and what was a mildly watchable (if over-long) piece of bad entertainment reaches truly stupendous levels of confusion and ridiculousness.
This is just a dumb film. Obviously it’s not aiming to be anything particularly profound, but there’s always room for care and creativity, even in action cinema – but the action here is bland. Samey gunfights and bizarrely slow-paced melees just doesn’t give the viewer much to get excited about, and the dialogue and acting is about what you’d expect from this kind of fare – mediocre and dull.
Maybe there’s something here for Seagal fans. Maybe there’s something here for people who like urban vigilante action stories. Given how many far superior examples of both those categories exist, I can’t imagine why one would waste time on something like this.
My recommendation: if you really want to watch it – get some friends over, have some drinks and puzzle over what exactly is going on in this film. I can’t think of any other way to squeeze much enjoyment out of it.
Reviewed by Brendan Whittaker
Rating out of 10: 2
Code of Honor will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on 28 July 2016.