I just finished watching "Out Of Reach", and unlike the easily-definable DTV hits and misses like [[ASIN:B000VECACQ Urban Justice]] and [[ASIN:B00083FZEU Submerged]], I'm thoroughly undecided about whether or not I like the movie or not. Sure, it's nowhere near the quality of Steven Seagal's theatrical work, but it fails to suck a'la [[ASIN:B00009ZPTZ Out for a Kill]]. It's got plenty of unlikable attributes that would ruin any other film, but the question that must be considered for all Seagal-starring flicks is whether or not its pluses outweigh its negatives. Let's look at it in an orderly fashion; maybe coming to a conclusion that way will be easier.
Story: Seagal is a reclusive ex-agent spending his time tending to injured woodland animals and writing to his pen-pal, 13-year-old Polish orphan Irena (Ida Nowakowska). When the girl is kidnapped by an international human trafficking ring, Seagal kicks butt to get her back.
Now that Liam Neeson's [[ASIN:B001TODCII Taken]] has been released, the story will be considered old-hat but nonetheless proves serviceable. While some of the chance happenings border on the ludicrous, the plot's not bogged down by endless sub-tangents and convolution. Straight-arrow is good for Seagal, even if you have to bend reality to keep it that way.
Acting: Fans know not to expect a lot from Seagal and they shouldn't change this prejudice for this one. Steven's his same old mumbly self but bad-guy Matt Schulze (playing almost the same role he did in [[ASIN:B00008AOVL The Transporter]]) bests him for over-the-top hamminess...in a bad way. The rest of the cast is pretty acceptable, though: hero cop Agnieszka Wagner ("Thomas the Falconer") and baddie agent Robbie Gee ([[ASIN:B0000VAFO0 Underworld]]) don't discredit themselves, and young Ida Nowakowska is pretty good for a Polish girl reading and English script (her friend Jan Plazalski, on the other hand, could be the best child actor in the world but it wouldn't show through the completely weirdo role that was written for him).
Action: Most of the hand-to-hand action is quick and one-sided, but the choreography is fine and Seagal didn't call in too many stunt doubles this time around. A couple of solid gunfights distract from the lack of car chases. As a treat, the final showdown between Seagal and Schulze is a swordfight in a courtyard: it's nowhere near as fast-paced, lengthy, or exciting as the ones in [[ASIN:6305168873 Marked for Death]] and [[ASIN:B0006VL1IS Into the Sun]], but is undeniably styled like a John Woo scene and therefore art-y enough to be appreciated.
Production: The editing is solid and without obvious glitches, though a few too many scenes feature off-screen voiceovers. Even worse, about a third of Seagal's dialogue is dubbed by another actor - one that sounds absolutely nothing like him - as well as a few of Matt Schulze's lines. The shooting locations aren't as drab as most of Seagal's made-in-Europe fare tends to be, with decent cinematography keeping most shots worth looking at.
I think I'm warming up to the movie, but purely because it's a Seagalian feature. Non-fans of his don't even need to think about checking this one out. The use of the very real crime of human trafficking as a plot device is realistic without being exploitive and is generally handled very well by director Po-Chih Leong ([[ASIN:B000056VOT Immortality]]). Seagal's more likeable in this film than he had been recently, by way of his connection to the young girl via secret codes he taught her. The lengthy dubbing really gets on your nerves before long, though, and is probably the major reason why many perople don't approve of this one. In short, there are most definitely better DTV titles that our hero has done, but even if it's at the bottom of the "acceptable" rung, "Out Of Reach" fails to fall into the category of Seagal's bad movies. Fans will no doubt remain divided in opinion, but for what it's worth, it's staying on my shelf.