Home Page > Movies Index (w/mixed oldies) > > Movie Review

This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Spooky Dealings, Smoky Reelings

Black Dawn on IMDb

Plot Overview

briefcaseWhen Aslan Maskov, leader of a Chechen resistance group, is assassinated, his number two James Donovon (John Pyper-Ferguson) vows vengeance on the U.S. He enlists rogue CIA officer Jonathan Cold (Steven Seagal) to break his int'l arms dealer brother Michael (Julian Stone) out of a federal detention center in Utah. That gives Cold an in with the group over the objections of some. They conduct a series of diamond heists in order to afford to buy a small (five kiloton) suit­case nuke (“A child can carry this”) from another terrorist group, to be exploded in L.A. where it will do the most harm.

Meanwhile, the group is under surveillance by CIA freshmen Amanda Stuart (Tamara Davies) and Max Pierson (Don Franklin.) Stuart recognizes Cold as her first handler and is instructed by their Division Chief Anthony Greer (Timothy Carhart) to maintain surveillance (“We work for the same people.”) When the terrorists tumble to them, there's a shootout. Cold breaks cover to rescue Stuart, and Pierson—the black guy—is sacrificed for the plot (“It's a bad day for you.”) He leaves behind a message in invisible writing pegging a Plutonium disposal technician Julius McCabe (David St. James) at a test lab in Pasadena as the source for their weapons grade Plutonium.

directionsKaboom!Various interested parties converge on the hotel room where McCabe has stashed his Pu-239. There's a running gun battle and the terrorist suppliers recover it to be inserted into a working device crafted by Russian nuclear physicist Dr. Myshkin (Matthew Salinger). The diamond–device swap is to occur at the Voxen Bank Building in San Diego where it's to be triggered on a timer allowing what non-martyrs are left to escape via the roof­top helipad while world financial markets melt down.


card playersThe poignant scenes in this otherwise lackluster movie lend them­selves to comparison with one of Kenny Rogers's songs concerning a chance encounter with “The Gambler” on an unscheduled train. He offered his fellow passenger the advice that “the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.” The refrain goes:

You've got to know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, Know when to run. You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

This wisdom of the gambling man's repartee is old as the hills and was passed on by a raconteur, Agur in Proverbs 30:1, whose four meta­phors offered the same life advice as did Rogers's Gambler. That we find in, (Prov. 30:29-31) “There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”

We have Agur's “lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any,” and we have Rogers's “know[ing] when to hold 'em.” When the bad guys in their sedan with guns blazing start chasing the good ones driving a six-wheeler built like a tank, the tables get turned and that truck ain't stoppin' for nothin'. Home­less camp in their path, they yell, “Get out of the way!” and flatten it. U–turn (“Hold on!”) and the chase car is toast. There's “road construction ahead” but their brakes are out. Inflammable gas, “Jump!”

We have Agur's “king, against whom there is no rising up,” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to fold 'em.” A king who knows when to give in to his subjects doesn't experience any uprising. When the timer is triggered and Amanda suggests Cold disarm it, he nixes the idea because any­thing he does can set it off. It's best he move it right quick to where it will do the least damage.

dwarf goatWe have Agur's “he goat also” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to walk away.” When the two spies over dinner broach the subject of where they go from here … as colleagues, friends or lovers, Cold takes the option of walking away from it all.

We have Agur's “greyhound” and Rogers's “Know[ing] when to run.” When a group of terrorists looking like they mean business head up the hotel stairs, the desk clerk sheds his jacket and runs out the door. When they start shooting it out in a room occupied by a couple getting it on, the inter­rupted lovers run buck naked out the door.

The gambler gave the advice:

You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

Amanda gives her after-action report when all is said and done, setting us up for—God forbid—another sequel.

Production Values

” (Video 2005) is sequel to “The Foreigner” (2003.) It was directed by Alexander Gruszynski. It stars Steven Seagal, Tamara Davies and John Pyper-Ferguson. Seagal is a familiar face, Davies is easy on the eyes, and Pyper-Ferguson makes one helluva terrorist to give us sleepless nights.

MPAA rated it R for violence, language and brief sexuality. The nuclear device, based on the MK–59, was credible in its description, Radio Shack in its circuitry, and not shown the detonation chamber holding the fissile material surrounded by shaped charges. If you stumble on one in your bank lobby, alert the authorities immediately—unless they happen to be shooting a movie there, then wait and get some autographs.

The martial arts were undeveloped and the sharpshooting a matter of luck: Seagal's good, the terrorists' bad. There was one humorous moment when an unfaithful husband was interrupted in the act, and he blubbered out the sorriest excuse ever heard to a disinterested CIA officer seeking refuge. The pace was good, the action poor, the plot predictable, the explosions plausible, and the characters forgettable. The chapters correspond to four enumerated days. Runtime is 1 hour 36 minutes.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

It is what it is. My DVD set has four of these Seagal action films on it, but one was enough for me. If you've seen one, you've seen 'em all. For my Christian readers I mention there's a Bible in the motel room.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Decent action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Rogers, Kenny. Songwriter Don Schlitz. “The Gambler.” Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Pub. LLC. Web.