Kill Switch


by Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Kill Switch is one of the very few Steven Seagal films in which the screenwriter weighs as much as the star. In fact, they are precisely the same weight, because Seagal assumed the double role in this police procedural set among the Memphis lowlife..

Seagal plays a homicide detective who specializes in deranged serial killers, and in this storyline he's tracking two of them simultaneously. One is a pseudo-Zodiac killer who "channels spirits good and bad" and leaves behind encrypted clues with some kind of astrological significance. The other is a bad-ass hillbilly who just enjoys killing and torturing people. Because Seagal is a genius at finding and apprehending serial killers, the FBI wants to study his methods, so they assign a Federal shadow, a callow woman in her twenties. Because the Zodiac clone is particularly demented, he tries to frame Seagal himself for the killings, using an ingenious scheme to obtain Seagal's DNA and place it under the fingertips of victims. Seagal knows that he's not the killer, of course, but the FBI agent is not so sure.

This movie is not a worthwhile police procedural, but it could have been with just a little tweaking. The biggest problem with it is that it is very short on both plot and character development, and very heavy on fight scenes, chases, and shoot-outs. That general problem is compounded by two more specific elements: (1) some of the fight scenes involve minor characters or even extras who are irrelevant to the plot; (2) they are not very good fight scenes because the director employed a lot of stunt doubling (Seagal's looks nothing like him), embellished the pace with jumpy editing, and shot too many head-and-shoulder shots. The first twenty minutes of this film are very difficult to sit through, since they involve fight scenes between Seagal's body double and various characters unrelated to the plot.

That's the film's major flaw. If it had been resolved by spending more time with the major characters and making the Zodiac plot more interesting and mysterious, the film could have been a good straight-to-vid. The first twenty minutes are awful, but after that the film has a bit of down-and-dirty Memphis atmosphere, an appropriate blues score, and a passable basic plot structure. Seagal even attempts a bit of uncharacteristically ambitious acting by mumbling with a Memphis accent instead of his normal generic midwestern American.

There are, however, some other issues to pick over.

First, the "Seagal as suspect" angle is a completely undeveloped throwaway that gets resolved with a convenient confession. The film could have been far better if this idea had either been dropped altogether or introduced earlier and left as a legitimate possibility. The way it is handled in the existing film, it's introduced late in the film, resolved almost immediately and too conveniently, and was never a legitimate possibility from the viewer's perspective, so it seems like just a completely off-the-wall theory proposed by the naive FBI agent. This turns the agent herself into an official cop-film cliché: the excessively academic fed who has a lot to learn about the real world from the hardened homicide detective.

Second, the editing is annoying. Several scenes involve the quirky, pseudo-hip new technique of showing the same few seconds over and over again from slightly different angles.

Third, the film's final scene is a totally irrelevant and utterly confusing post-script. It shows Seagal arriving in a country home, bringing presents to a Russian-speaking woman and her two sons, then following the sexy woman into the bedroom where she disrobes. Seagal and the blonde close the bedroom door, and the credits roll! Don't get me wrong. I'm all in favor of adding gratuitous female nudity. This scene, however, seems to be leftover footage from a completely different Seagal movie. These characters have never been introduced at all. We don't know why they are speaking Russian, or why Seagal speaks Russian to them, although the boys call him "papa." We don't know if this takes place three days or fifteen years after the main plot.


* details not yet available.

* no offense, but if you think this is worth the :new" price, I'd like to talk to you about some Florida swampland property. (And, mind you, I get a commission if you buy it!)





No reviews online.




n/a IMDB summary (of 10)
  Not enough votes for a score. I suppose it will come in around 5 when the dust clears.




Straight to DVD.




  • As the Zodiac guy, Michael Filipowich shows his bum.
  • Apollonia Vanova shows her breasts as a corpse.
  • Andrea Stefancikova is the Russian woman in the epilogue from another planet.

Despite all those Eastern European names above, the film seems to have been filmed entirely in Vancouver, per IMDb.




Our Grade:

If you are not familiar with our grading system, you need to read the explanation, because the grading is not linear. For example, by our definition, a C is solid and a C+ is a VERY good movie. There are very few Bs and As. Based on our descriptive system, this film is a:


Not completely without merit, but not recommended except for Seagal completists.