One of Steven Seagal's socially conscious movies (like ON DEADLY GROUND or FIRE DOWN BELLOW), as opposed to one of his super-violent ass-kickers, this film was so thoroughly rejected by the action star's fans that it only opened theatrically abroad, going directly to video in the United States. Once a big-shot with the NSA's immunological research division, widower Dr. Wesley McLaren (Seagal) now lives a simple life on a Montana ranch with his cute pre-teen daughter, Holly (Camilla Belle), and his old pal Frank (L.Q. Jones). McLaren works as a general practitioner in nearby Ennis, educating his patients in the virtues of herbal medicines and homeopathy. The fly in the ointment of his idyllic life is a militia group with headquarters on land owned by Floyd Chisholm (Gailard Sartain), who calls himself a "patriot of the new America" and is always getting into scrapes with the law. FBI and ATF agents have surrounded Chisolm's farmhouse, where his fanatical followers are holed up seething about new world order-type things. Everyone's afraid of another Ruby Ridge or Waco-style debacle, but Chisolm unexpectedly gives himself up, averting a lethal stand-off. What no one outside his enclave knows is that Chisolm has just dosed himself with a lethal biological contaminant called NAM-37. His plan is to infect as many cops, judges, FBI agents and other government employees as possible, then cure himself with the antidote he acquired from the same rogue government lab worker who sold him the bio-engineered bug. But things go very wrong, very fast. NAM-37 proves more lethal than Chisolm imagined, and the batch he bought turns out to have mutated spontaneously, so the antidote doesn't work. Ennis is suddenly under military quarantine and crawling with guys in ghostly biohazard suits including McLaren's old pal, Dr. Richard Bach (Dan Beene) and the only person who seems to be immune to the disease is McLaren's little girl. McLaren must protect Holly while finding a cure before NAM-37 kills off God-only-knows how many innocent people. The film's Montana vistas are breathtakingly beautiful, and the crisis-in-the-hot-zone sequences are as spooky as those in OUTBREAK, but Seagal's monologues about the environment, biological warfare, Native American spirituality and natural medicine are excruciating. And, at the risk of spoiling the highly meaningful ending, the scenes of military choppers blanketing Ennis with wildflower petals deserve a niche in the Overstated Symbols Hall of Fame.
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- Released: 1998
- Rating: R
- Review: One of Steven Seagal's socially conscious movies (like ON DEADLY GROUND or FIRE DOWN BELLOW), as opposed to one of his super-violent ass-kickers, this film was so thoroughly rejected by the action star's fans that it only opened theatrically abroad, going… (more)