[Screen It]


(1997) (Steven Seagal, Marg Helgenberger) (R)

Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Tense Scenes
Mild Moderate Heavy Minor Heavy
Mild None Minor Minor Heavy
Smoking Tense Family
Topics To
Talk About
Mild None Mild Minor Extreme

Action: A federal agent uncovers lucrative toxic waste dumps in Appalachia and must deal with the locals who want to keep their "gold mine" secret.
E.P.A. agent Jack Taggart (STEVEN SEAGAL) is sent to rural Kentucky to investigate a colleague's death and rumor of widespread and potentially lethal chemical dumping. Going undercover as a religious handyman, Taggart befriends some of the locals, including the minister, Bob Goodall (LEVON HELM), an older man who keeps to himself, Cotton (HARRY DEAN STANTON), and the town beekeeper and resident outcast, Sarah Kellogg (MARG HELGENBERGER). Other townsfolk aren't too happy with this new outsider, however, and begin to make trouble for Taggart fearing he'll uncover their illegal activity. Chief among them is Orin Hanner Jr. (BRAD HUNT) who's been placed in charge of the town by his mining tycoon father, Orin Sr.(KRIS KRISTOFFERSON). As Taggart begins to uncover more evidence, he also brings Sarah out of her isolation, both of which worry and anger her older brother, Earl (STEPHEN LANG). The inevitable showdown between the locals, Orin Sr.'s men, and Taggart then takes place as the federal agent tries to bring justice to the rolling, wooded hills of Appalachia.
If they're fans of Seagal and his standard martial arts films they probably will.
For violence and language.
  • STEVEN SEAGAL plays a federal agent who for the most part fights in self-defense, although toward the end he attacks several people out of anger.
  • MARG HELGENBERGER plays the town's social outcast who doesn't do much other than fall prey to the town's bad people and then be saved by Taggart.
  • KRIS KRISTOFFERSON and BRAD HUNT play the father son team of bad guys who not only illegally dump toxic chemicals, but also bribe, threaten, or kill people who get in their way.


    OUR TAKE: 3 out of 10
    If you've seen most of Steven Seagal's previous films, then you've pretty much seen this one. The semblance of a bare bones plot is introduced and some environmentally correct issues are presented, but most of that's designed just so that Seagal can bust some heads when the bad guys try to mess with him. If you like that sort of movie, this one will certainly not disappoint you, but others will find this to be the some old tired formula we've seen countless times before. Besides the sophomore attempt at making an environmental statement (the first being "On Deadly Ground"), this film can also be noted for Seagal trying to lighten up by smiling a bit more (he's always Mr. Serious) and picking up a guitar and jamming with some bluegrass/country musicians. Yes, you read that right, and while he mumbles along at the microphone during this scene, he actually wrote and performed some of the songs in the movie. While that may shock some, he actually fares better at that than acting, so if his action film career ever dries up, he'll have something left to fall back on (but no, he'll never win a Grammy or anything like that). It's also been reported that he's kicked off his own mini-tour where local clubs will get the honor of seeing him perform in person, but it hasn't been decided whether he'll be beating up anyone in the clubs or bars. Oh, that's right. That's what happens in every movie he's in, which is why we're talking about stuff other than "Fire Down Below." In it, the bad guys are stereotypical villains who can't figure out that if the last ten guys couldn't beat up Seagal, they should choose not to fight. There's the smooth, corrupt businessman who, when his own men can't get the job done, tries to beat up/kill the stoic one, but obviously didn't pay attention to the outcome of all of the other fights. And of course there's the woman who has to be protected/rescued from the bad guys. Add to that some rough editing, illogical plot development, and of course, bad acting, and you get a typical Seagal film. Not that we haven't liked some stuff he's down in the past ("Under Siege" for instance), but this film shows little originality other than changing the location of all of the fighting. His fans will like it, but this won't be much of a hit for Mr. Seagal. We give "Fire Down Below" just a 3 out of 10.
    As you probably gathered from the above, this film is typical of other Seagal movies, so it obviously contains people being beaten up, some shot and a few being killed. The bad guys burn down a church, they illegally dump a lot of toxic chemicals into abandoned mines, and they have the rest of the stereotypical villain behavior and attitudes. Additionally, a few women are provocatively dressed and a few people drink here and there. Since some kids will want to see this film, we encourage you to look through the material before allowing them to do so.

  • Taggart comes across some locals and their marijuana farm, but we see no use of the drug.
  • Orin Jr. drinks a beer.
  • Orin Sr. pours himself whiskey.
  • An older musician drinks whiskey straight from the bottle until he finally collapses on stage and must be replaced.
  • Drinks are served and people are seen drinking in a casino.
  • Many people who Taggart beats up have bloody noses, mouths, or cuts on their heads.
  • A bad agent's head is rather bloody after a car crash and his partner is shot in the neck by Taggart and is also very bloody.
  • Obviously all of the bad guys have both as not only do they illegally dump toxic materials, but they also bribe, threaten, or kill anyone who gets in their way.
  • Sarah's brother treats her poorly and we later learn he molested her at a younger age and killed their father.
  • The townspeople also treat Sarah badly, thinking that she killed her father years ago (she didn't).
  • Some viewers may find scenes listed under "Violence" as also being tense, but they probably won't come across that way to most viewers (particularly adults).
  • Taggart discovers that some locals have dropped rattlesnakes into his room at night, and he must catch them. Later, those same locals find the snakes in their truck when they get in.
  • Handguns/Shotguns/Machine Gun: Used to threaten, wound, or kill people. See "Violence" for details.
  • Phrases: "Screw up," "Shut up," "Idiot," "Kiss my ass," "Bastards" and "Whore."
  • Rattlesnakes are left in someone's room and in another scene are left in someone's truck.
  • Earl burns down the town's church and Sarah's beehives.
  • None.
  • There's a minor amount of suspenseful music in a few scenes.
  • One song contains the word "damn."
  • At least 5 "f" words (1 used with "mother"), 18 "s" words, 14 hells, 8 asses (1 used with "hole"), 6 damns, 2 S.O.B.'s, 6 uses of "G-damn," and 1 use each of "Jesus Christ," "God," "Jesus," "Swear to God," "Lord," "Oh Lord," "For Christ's sakes," and "By God" as exclamations.
  • A woman seen with Orin Sr. wears a sexy-looking slip.
  • Several women are seen dancing in rather tight short-shorts (that show part of their butts).
  • Earl asks Sarah if she slept with Taggart (she didn't).
  • A woman at a casino wears a dress that has straps that cover only parts of her breasts (ie. We can see the sides of them).
  • Taggart tells Orin Sr. that a "friend" of his in prison, Tyrone, will teach him "the intimate social graces" of being there and consequently will take care of Orin's lack of women for the next thirty years.
  • None.
  • Taggart learns that Sarah was accused of killing her father when she was sixteen, but was acquitted.
  • Sarah's brother treats her poorly, tells her things will go back the way they used to be between them (he previously molested her), and we learn that he killed their father.
  • The disposal of toxic materials.
  • Taggart is confronted by many locals who try to threaten, wound, or kill him, and consequently there are scenes involving all of those people getting beaten up.
  • There's talk at the beginning of several people being killed and we see quick shots of a knife getting ready to slit a man's throat and of a gun being fired. The injuries aren't actually seen but we know the results.
  • Some locals confront Taggart and aim their guns at him, causing him to strike and disarm them.
  • A truck crashes into other vehicles when the driver and his companion find rattlesnakes in their vehicle and then jump out.
  • Though not seen, some locals beat up Cotton who was friendly to Taggart.
  • After being threatened by the local sheriff and his men, and knowing they're on the take, Taggart hits one of them and holds his gun in another's mouth to make them back down.
  • A tractor trailer hits Taggart's truck from behind and then continually tries to run him off the road/kill him until the semi finally drives over a cliff and crashes down below, killing the driver.
  • Earl burns down the town's church and Sarah's beehives.
  • Earl slaps Sarah after accusing her of sleeping with Taggart (she didn't), and moments later comes after her in the house, knocking her around.
  • Taggart hits several bad guys and then fires a gun into the toxic chemical canisters. The green goo spills onto the men, burning them, while the others get into a gun battle with Taggart. Several men are then shot (and possibly killed).
  • An explosion is set off to seal a mine and kill the people inside, which it does (but we don't see the deaths).
  • Many vehicles crash into each other and two bad agents exchange gunfire with Taggart after they abduct Sarah.
  • Taggart fights two more groups of people before Orin Sr. shoots an FBI agent and tries to shoot Taggart, who then shoots and wounds Orin.

  • Reviewed September 5, 1997

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