End of a Gun is at least the sixth Steven Seagal movie to see a 2016 release. Like Killing Salazar, it pairs the star with director Keoni Waxman. It also features a screenplay by Waxman and Chuck Hustmyre, with cinematography by Nathan Wilson. At first blush, it appears that all the elements are in place for another garden variety Seagal outing.
Alas, there’s something different here. End of a Gun is stylized like a heist movie and Waxman tries all sorts of tricks here, with an opening credit sequence right out of a 1970s exploitation flick and a pile of funky editing shenanigans. There are split-screens galore and there are intertitles. There’s even a leisurely Seagal voiceover, with talk of trouble and trust and little black dresses.
Seagal is Decker, an American spending time in France. He’s an agent of some sort, but he’s also a “ghost.” One night, Decker’s strolling into a nightclub when a dude (Andrei Ciopec) starts laying a beating on his girlfriend Lisa (Jade Ewen). Naturally, Decker intervenes and the guy winds up dead.
Decker defends his right to bear arms and his cop friend Jean (Ovidiu Niculescu) helps him out. Lisa reappears and informs the protagonist that the man he killed is in possession of a cool two million. The money is in his car and his car is in impound. Decker and Lisa come up with a plan to get the cash, while the dead guy’s gang also targets the money.
End of a Gun is a pretty loquacious thriller, with lots of exposition about what’s going on or what just happened or what’s going to happen. Decker likes to talk about how he has a plan, which leads to the application of said plan and so forth.
There are even flashbacks of scenes that are less than five minutes old, as though the audience needs a recap of the deal between Lisa and Decker. Waxman seems to be trying to lay down the importance of something that was said, like when he has Lisa offer up her impressive assets in exchange for Decker’s help and then cuts to a two-second sex scene with a fully clothed Seagal laying near a nude Ewen.
Speaking of Ewen, the former Sugababe gets to play femme fatale. Lisa’s after the money and makes all sorts of comments about using her sexuality to get what she wants. She likes the danger and there are questions about her loyalty. Seagal’s Decker knows he’s in trouble with the cleavage-baring woman in the black dress, but that doesn’t stop him from being honourable. Or whatever.
Waxman and Wilson spend most the movie leering at the women in the cast, of which there are few. Every so often, the camera will dip to butt-level on a passing waitress. Later, Jean’s wife (Crina Ene) arrives with some half-assed looks of concern. Guess where the camera’s focussed?
The lens also does Seagal a lot of favours. He spends considerable time tucked away in variations of a black suit, with his arms crossed or a gun raised. There are some fight scenes, but the editing works so that the kicks are never connected to his body. Luckily, he does do a bunch of cool wrist-snapping moves. And he kicks a guy in the balls.
This is standard fare for Seagal, but Waxman does get points for trying something different. He plays to the star’s strengths as an accented slow-mover, even if he does over-direct the film. A little more moderation would’ve done some good, but End of a Gun isn’t exactly subtle. Or good.