★★★ The USS Missouri has run her course and leaves Pearl Harbor for San Francisco to be decommissioned. On board is the Navy's top chef, Chief Ryback (Steven Seagal). Seagal looks so out of place among the Navy enlisted here. He's not even in a uniform choosing instead to wear all black clothes while everyone else is in their dress whites. But he's not there to be the Navy's poster boy. Ryback is a great cook who can microwave a bomb and have it explode at the exact moment when the bad guys are in front of it.
On the pretense of a surprise birthday party for the captain, a helicopter full of mercenaries disguised as caterers and a blues band lands on the USS Missouri. The band, Bad Billy and Fabulous Bail Jumpers is led by Tommy Lee Jones, who is the brains behind the operation. Commander Krill (Gary Busey) is the inside man that assists in the take-over of the battleship.
Now I know no one is approaching Under Siege for the acting, but Jones acts everyone under the table. He brings everything he's got to the part and is a blast to watch. I almost wish he would beat Seagal in the film's climax. Unfortunately it's a knife fight, and not an actors' duel.
Jones begins ranting about the Muppets and continues on to play air guitar while he's firing tomahawk missiles at innocent people. He's Hans Gruber's polar opposite, choosing completely crazy over cool and collected. He also commits bad guy mistake number one and instead of killing Seagal when he has the chance, instead explains his entire evil plan to him.
Also on board the Missouri is Miss July 1989, Jordan Tate (played by the actual Miss July 1989 Erika Eleniak). Miss July jumps out of the cake and then follows Ryback around like a lost puppy dog looking for a script that makes better use of her character. The writers obviously didn't know what to do with her. They simply wanted to work in a Playboy centerfold, and then after she does her striptease they can't figure out what to do with the character. At first she doesn't want to stay hidden and demands to follow Ryback around, then she complains she has to follow him around for the rest of the film.
Of course Seagal does what he does best, which here is ripping out bad guys' throats, improvising bombs and winning not only the final fight against Jones, but Miss July to boot.
Under Siege is one of those movies where a character says, with all seriousness, "Wake up the president." It may not be as good as it was when I had the poster hanging on my bedroom wall in high school, but it's good enough, and Tommy Lee Jones is a lot of fun to watch.
Footnote 1: The USS Alabama (BB60) Battleship museum played the role of the USS Missouri (BB63) in the movie.
Footnote 2: Under Siege was nominated for two Oscars.