In my review of Killing Salazar, the subject of “scraping the bottom of the barrel” was raised with respect to Steven Seagal’s direct-to-video crop. The futility of said venture is clear, but every so often something comes along that blows even the soundest of concepts to hell. In this instance, that something is The Perfect Weapon.
This, dear reader, may be the bottom of the barrel. Directed by Titus Paar from a screenplay by Alex Brenner and Jesse Cilio, Seagal’s fifth picture from 2016 is one of the most inexplicable outings of his entire catalogue. It is also one of the most ambitious, with a hi-tech setting giving way to infuriating special effects, jumbled action sequences and some of the silliest dialogue put to film.
It’s the future and war has forced the government to assume more control. Things are run by the Director (Seagal), a sinister leader with a penchant for teaching sexy Asian ladies the ways of meridian massage. The Director dispatches enemies of the state and uses an organization of operatives and assassins to handle any potential rebellions.
One of his best operatives is Condor (Johnny Messner), who looks an awful lot like Agent 47. The agent botches a mission and finds himself distracted by the lovely Nina (Sasha Jackson), who may or may not be an old flame. Condor is handled by the Controller (Richard Tyson), who tries his best to protect the “perfect weapon” from the government forces hell-bent on avenging the job gone wrong.
The screenplay drips with sci-fi clichés, whether with the unthinking operatives or the authoritarian future. The set design furthers the corny methodology, serving as a sort of Blade Runner pastiche with low, low budget appeal. There’s a certain gall to the production, but the utter peculiarity of the proceedings makes for difficult viewing.
Without question, there’s plenty to mock. An interrogator known without irony or humour as the Interrogator (Vernon Wells) threatens to hack off the penis of the Condor because he knows where Condor’s been putting his penis. The harshest cut is called off by the Controller, who exclaims that he won’t have the Interrogator “slicing off his manhood” for his fun. Aw, shucks.
Seagal, in the meantime, gets to discharge some of the most senseless dialogue he’s ever released on the masses – and that’s saying a lot for the guy who prattled on about changing “the essence of a man” in On Deadly Ground.
To illustrate just how weird things get, the following monologue is delivered to the Controller: “Raise your hand, when I hold you (go ahead, raise your hand) …you see, when I raise your hand you go up, when I raise you down you go down, when I lift you up you go up. All of these things are things that manipulate you, but they’re not things that have to hurt you. They’re things that just manipulate you because I can use pure thought. Those are all the things that really make for the ultimate warrior.”
In fairness, Seagal isn’t around all that much. There is a moment that seems to present a younger, fresher version, but for the most part this is Messner’s show. Sadly, he doesn’t fare much better. He spends most of the movie struggling against the opposition and his command of the part lacks that special fire required of a titular flawless armament.
With asinine dialogue, shaky action, mind-numbing special effects, and a tacky sex scene, one wouldn’t be wrong expecting The Perfect Weapon to be a comedy. Regrettably, Paar’s picture is so serious about its foul business that it provokes gigantic laughs in spite of itself. That’s not exactly the desired effect for such an ambitious project, but the future is a funny thing.