Film / On Deadly Ground

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"That's a crock of shit!"
Background dialogue

This 1994 action movie is in all likelihood the most environmentally destructive film with a Green Aesop ever. Steven Seagal, who also directed and co-produced (it was his first film after Under Siege), stars as Forrest Taft. Also in the cast are Michael Caine, Joan Chen, John C. McGinley, R. Lee Ermey, and Billy Bob Thornton.

In the beginning of the film, Taft is working as a contractor for Aegis Energy, putting out an oil rig fire in Alaska. With large explosives. Hugh Palmer (Richard Hamilton), who is in charge of running the rig, is blaming the company, saying they supplied faulty protectors. Forrest scoffs at this at the time as he blows up the burning rig, but notes that they were faulty protectors—only, of course, he blew up that evidence.

Tropes:

  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Infamous live action example.
  • Author Tract: In case the films Green Aesop wasn't unsubtle enough for you, the film caps off its green-friendly agenda with Forrest literally lecturing the audience on environmental problems and getting a round of applause.
  • Bar Brawl: Forrest starts one when some rednecks bully an Native American.
  • Broken Aesop: The film is supposed to have a Green Aesop, yet Fridge Logic says that destroying an oil rig would cause far more environmental damage than simply letting it run. Also, it portrays the oil company as exploiting the natives. But it also says they have a contract... generally, those contracts include paying out dividends to the original owners of the mineral rights.
  • The Chosen One: Whether Forrest wants it or not.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Michael Jennings, the Aegis CEO.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Liles gets probably the most drawn-out death of the villains, getting horribly maimed in a car crash, set alight by petrol pouring out of the fuel tanker she crashed into, and then blown to shreds when said tanker explodes. It seems way over the top for an attempted Karmic Death, when the only particularly villainous thing she did was likening Alaska to a third world country.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: This is pretty much Forrest's entire MO when dealing with any and all opposition. Couple of hicks are harassing a Native American? Continuously pummel them even after they've given up! Big Bad says you don't have the guts to finish him off? Prove him wrong by murdering him while his back is turned and totally unable to defend himself!
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Yes, Forrest is supposed to embody that. And the film isn't subtle about it either.
  • Green Aesop: Seagal's message is that oil is bad, oil companies are bad, and anybody who makes a living in the production of oil deserves to die by his hands. Now bend over and take that message for 90 minutes.
  • Groin Attack: Including one where the target rather redundantly yells "MY NUTS!", as though the audience couldn't tell that was where he was kicked.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: The film contains several drawn-out torture scenes, such as when Forrest's friend Hugh is beaten with a pipe cutter. Not just on the part of the villains though; Forrest has several scenes where he continues to bully people even when he's already beaten them, such as a very lengthy and painful fight in the bar. And, as Film Brain pointed out, Forrest murders Jennings at the end of the movie, even though he was unarmed, outmatched, and totally unable to defend himself.
  • Meaningful Name: In case the film's environmentalist subtext wasn't on the nose enough. The lead is literally called "Forrest".
  • Mighty Whitey: Forrest Taft is a textbook example; he puts it upon himself to speak for the Inuit who are being screwed over by the oil companies. Because, well, the Inuit have no voice. There's even a scene where undergoes a Vision Quest to essentially purge himself of white guilt.
  • Never Found the Body: Why Jennings believes Forrest is alive.
  • Oh, Crap!: Liles' last words (in the cruder, better-known phrasing) before her escape attempt goes remarkably awry.
  • One-Book Author: To date, this is the only film Steven Seagal has directed.
  • Photo Op with the Dog: The exec tries to make an ad to improve the image of Aegis Energy, complete with reindeer/caribou.
  • Positive Discrimination:
    Forrest: You ride good?
    Masu: Of course, I'm a Native American.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Yes the oil executives are a pack of amoral scumbags. But do their actions really justify destroying an exploration site and presumably causing multiple deaths and millions of dollars in property and environmental damage? Apparently it does, for everyone, including the press, who give Forrest a standing ovation.
  • Reverse the Polarity: According to the movie, Forrest didn't do any damage to the environment when he blew up the oil refinery because before doing so, he "reversed the valves".
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Liles, the token female baddie, tries to cut and run in the climactic fight. She fails spectacularly. Mind you, her only crime was being a totally harmless employee of the villain, but Steven Seagal had a point to make, so of course she deserves to die along with all the other people simply doing their jobs on the rig.
  • Stuffed in the Fridge: Finding Hugh's corpse tipped Forrest off that this was a trap.
  • We Care: The ad that the Big Bad tries to make.
  • What Measure Is a Mook?: At the climax of the film Forrest brutally massacres dozens of guards on an oil rig, some of whom aren't even posing a real threat to him, ostensibly for the horrific crime of being accessories to pollution. After killing all these people, he finally gets the Big Bad right where he wants him, and then decides he's not worth killing (though The Chick then takes the initiative to off the Big Bad herself). Hell, at one point he more or less kills an oil rig employee for smoking.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Jennings, towards Forrest. It fails of course.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/OnDeadlyGround