G is for…The Glimmer Man
What can I say about The Glimmer Man?
It’s not crime-y enough to be a crime movie.
It’s not action-y enough to be an action movie.
It’s not buddy-y enough to be a buddy cop movie.
What it is (beyond a slog) is yet another vehicle for Steven Seagal (who not only stars as LAPD Detective Jack Cole, he was also a producer) to show off his skills at slapping grown men. For what the film lacks in genre, it makes up for it with slapping.
The film, directed by John Gray, opens with a dark credit sequence featuring deaths and Christian imagery. Eventually the viewer is introduced to Detective Jim Campbell (Keenan Ivory Wayans), who is working on the case of the Family Man, a serial killer who murders entire families and paints Christian symbols with their blood. Lovely, no? In Campbell’s office is a man wearing a long necklace that is clearly the focus of his outfit, and of course this is Cole. At first the two men don’t get along very well, but they never do get along well even at the end of the movie.
They’re sent to investigate another Family Man murder, but soon wind up at a local Catholic school, where student Johnny Deverell (Johnny Strong) is threatening his class with a gun. The scene is designed like a similar opening scene in Lethal Weapon, to advance the plot but really to demonstrate Cole’s skills in talking people down/supressing them. Another scene used to illustrate Cole’s abilities is the scene where he and Campbell fight the Russian Mafia.
The Family Man eventually kills again, but this time it’s Cole’s ex-wife and her husband. Cole’s prints are found on his ex-wife’s body, making Campbell question his new partner’s history and purpose. He has a right to be concerned, considering the viewer also knows Cole is friendly with Mr. Smith (Brian Cox), a man who clearly has crime syndicate connections.
One of those connections is Johnny Deverell’s father, Frank Deverell (Bob Gunton). The first murders Cole and Campbell investigated were for Deverell’s Russian translator, Sonya Roslov (Susan Reno). Eventually Cole realizes that the recent Family Man killings were not done by the actual Family Man Christopher Maynard (Stephen Tobolowsky), and that there’s a larger cover-up going on, likely orchestrated by Deverell.
Meanwhile, Campbell is attacked in his home, and his apartment is eventually burned down.
Cole and Campbell talk with Johnny, who explains that the copycat crimes were committed by his father’s head of security, Donald Cunningham (John M. Jackson), and also that his father has been working with Mr. Smith. Cole is able to torture Smith to the point of admitting that Deverell is smuggling chemical weapons from Russia so he can sell them to the local mafia. They leave Smith to find his own way to the hospital, and pursue Deverell.
Deverell is holding a meeting with the mafia and Donald, and of course when Cole and Campbell show up everything goes to hell. Donald shoots Deverell and everyone else winds up hurt if not dead, including Campbell, who is shot and falls through several windows. These events leave Cole to challenge Donald one-on-one, where of course Cole eventually emerges victorious.
Let’s get a glimmer of the criteria, shall we?
See what I did there?
A is for… Accents
The leader of the Russian Mafia of course has a Russian accent.
Smith has a Texan accent, which just seems weird in LA.
The maitre’d at Lento’s speaks with a fake Italian accent when on the phone with customers.
B is for… Bad Guys
Deverell is revealed to be smuggling chemical weapons into the country from Russia, which he will then sell to Serbian freedom fighters.
Smith is a government operative who Cole has worked with in the past. He is the one who supplied Deverell with his Russian contacts, and the Mafia brokered the deal.
Donald is Deverell’s head of security.
Christopher Maynard is the Family Man killer, though he was framed for the murders of Cole’s ex-wife and husband, and the Roslovs.
C is for… Chases
There isn’t an actual chase, but when the fake IA agents kidnap Cole, he fights and the camera cuts in and out of the car, and the whole scene has the vibe of a chase scene, complete with it ending with an explosion.
D is for… Damsels
There really isn’t a woman in the film outside of Cole’s wife, Jessica (Michelle Johnson). She barely plays a part, seeming to only be in the film to add some depth to Cole’s character.
E is for… Explosions
During the kidnapping scene, the IA agents use another car as a ramp, and that car explodes for some reason.
At the end of the scene, the IA agents crash into a tanker truck, which explodes.
Honorable mention goes to Campbell’s smashed TV burning down his apartment.
F is for… Flashbacks
No flashbacks, unless you count the clips during the opening credits.
G is for… Guns
Check out details at the IMFDB.
The first truly recognizable shot of the film is of a gun with a silencer being used to kill a woman.
Cole seems to like to engage in weird Mexican Standoffs, even though he’s a cop and shouldn’t have his gun out at every possible opportunity. With Johnny, and then the Russian Mafia, things escalate awfully quickly because of his handgun that he waves about.
Cole’s ex-wife and her husband are also killed execution-style, like the Roslovs.
Yet another standoff ends when Cole shoots Maynard in the chest.
When kidnapped by the fake IA agents, Cole grabs the one’s handgun, and pistol whips him bloody.
Everyone has a gun at the Ovington Hotel, and everyone seems to die in that room, with the exception being our stars and Donald.
H is for… Helicopters
The credits cite a helicopter pilot, but I don’t recall seeing a helicopter.
I is for… Improvisation
While not really an improvisation, I have to mention the credit card with the blade on it. Not only is it sneaky, it’s extremely effective against the mafia goons.
Cole uses a rotary phone as a club on Donald during their fight.
J is for… Jumping Through Solid Objects
In the first ridiculous moment in this film, Cole somehow manages to push Johnny out a window and across an alley into the building next door. Two windows, two people, zero laws of physics followed.
A mafia thug gets his head smashed through a car window.
Cole throws two thugs through two different glass walls/partitions at Lento’s.
Campbell has no choice but to leap through the window of his apartment when it catches on fire. Luckily a car breaks his fall.
During the kidnapping scene, the car drives through a glass window.
Campbell is shot and falls out a window, and then when Cole rescues him, they swing through yet another window.
Donald is smashed through a window at the Ovington.
K is for… Kill Count
Cole kills at least one mafia thug during their fight.
He definitely kills, if even indirectly, the two fake IA agents.
He also kills the thug at Johnny’s.
Several thugs are killed at the Ovington Arms during the final fight, but it’s impossible to tell how many.
L is for… Limitations
Due to his mysterious past and a fingerprint on a murder victim, Cole is considered a suspect in his ex-wife’s murder, though that doesn’t really seem to limit him too much.
M is for… Motivation
Cole is a cop, and he is trying to solve the cases of the Family Man. Of course, he eventually has to do a lot more than that, like break up a Russian Mafia crime ring.
Smith and Deverell are in it for the money, not surprisingly.
N is for… Negotiation
“Tell me or I’ll shoot you.”
Leave Cole alone and forget he exists, or he’ll kill him. –I have no idea who this is in reference to; my notes are not specific enough.
Cole has recorded evidence against Deverell, and he says he’ll give up the tape to Deverell if his name gets cleared for the murder of his ex-wife. After he kills Donald, of course.
O is for… One Liners
Campbell, upon meeting Cole: Look, Mr. Love Beads, you’re going to have to seek higher enlightenment somewhere else.
Cole: I like to testify as to what actually happened.
Campbell, to a Chinese saleslady: Do you know I’m black? I have no idea what you’re saying.
Thug: What bruise?
Cole hits him in the face: That bruise.
Campbell: No, I didn’t say tomato, I said terrorist.
Cole, to Smith: Listen, I only shot you in one foot. Hobble to the hospital.
Campbell, after almost shooting two kids: Showdown on Sesame Street. Big Bird will pop out of one of these doors next.
Donald: I woke up happy, and I’m going to bed happy, because you’ll be dead.
Campbell, to Cole: Not one good thing has happened since I met you.
Pretty much everything out of Campbell’s mouth is a one-liner, so I had to limit the ones I chose.
P is for… Profession
Cole came to LA from NYPD Homicide. He’s won medals, and seems to be a good cop, even though he waves his service weapon around at every hint of an opportunity. In fact, even when he’s kicked off the LAPD, he still shoots Smith in the foot and hand to get information.
Beyond the NYPD, his background is described as “smoke and mirrors.”
Smith helpfully explains, “He was a brilliant soldier. West Point, that kind of thing. I found him in Vietnam. Recruited him for a special project unit. The Program, we called it. He handled a lot of… odd jobs, for us. To the people he hunted for us, he was known as the ‘Glimmer Man.’ There’d be nothing but jungle…then a glimmer… then you’d be dead. He was booted out of the program in ‘84. Went native on us. Made up his own assignments, disappeared for months.” (This seems like a lot of Seagal characters, no?)
Cole says he was saved by a holy man, which is why he is a Buddhist.
Q is for… Quagmire
This is a Seagal film… He barely has any limitations, let alone something he seemingly can’t escape.
R is for… Reality, or Suspension of Disbelief
There isn’t anything too extreme, aside from the usual “Can a guy really survive crash-landing on a car?” and that sort of thing. And that ramp-car exploding for some reason.
S is for… Sidekicks
Jim Campbell is a good cop who likes old movies like Casablanca. He also is open to drinking Chinese tea and using holistic Chinese remedies, but it’s unclear whether these are actual traits or used merely for comedic effect. Campbell is effectively the movie’s buttmonkey.
T is for… Technology
This is yet another older movie where the technology is a distraction, such as the rotary phone used as a club, and the tape recorder used to record Smith.
However, cell phones are used to trick Johnny into thinking Cole was in the school office, rather than right outside the room. However, Cole charges in immediately after, ruining the effect.
U is for… Unexpected Romance
There are no women in this movie, except for Cole’s wife, so there is no romance of any sort.
V is for… Vehicles as Weapons
During the IA kidnapping scene, the car scrapes against stuff as Cole tries to survive.
W is for… Winning
Cole and Campbell record Smith confessing everything, including the guilt of Deverell. He tells them Deverell will be meeting with the mafia at the Ovington Arms hotel.
Donald learns of Deverell’s deception and shoots him. Most of the mafia is killed or injured in the shootout.
Campbell is also shot once he and Cole get involved, and winds up falling through two windows before getting rescued.
Donald and Cole fight hand-to-hand, and eventually the DVD I was watching skipped a few minutes so I couldn’t see how it ended. Fortunately, the whole final fight is on Youtube, so I can tell you that Cole smashes Donald through a window, after which he gets impaled on an iron fence. Overkill, much? …literally.
X is for… X-rays, or Maybe You Should See a Doctor
Cole is, of course, fine.
It’s Campbell who winds up bruised, battered, shot, cut, etc, and he eventually does get strapped into an ambulance.
Y is for… Yesterday’s Problem Becomes Today’s Problem
A guy with no past on the police force? What could possibly be strange about that? It’s Smith knowing Cole that has Deverell framing him, though it’s Cole knowing Smith that cracks the case open.
Z is for… Zone, In The
Cole is shown praying at his Buddhist temple, but he’s never really in a mental zone as far as fighting/training is concerned.
As I stated at the beginning, The Glimmer Man is a genre mess. It’s certainly not the worst film out there, but it’s far from the best, too. It’s just… not interesting or fun to watch. Seagal is Seagal, and the rest of the cast is just sort of distracting. Campbell doesn’t really do much except take the hits and make jokes, and the villains are blah. What was noticeable was the music, which was simply bizarre at times and didn’t fit what was happening on-screen.
A few things of note:
The DVD I borrowed from the library was so old, or at least so poorly-designed, that the main menu didn’t have an option for “play.” I had to click to the “select a scene” page to actually find the “play movie” button.
Why was it raining basically the whole movie, when it takes place in Los Angeles? I’m sure it rains there, but most films focus on the heat and humidity, not pouring rain and thunderstorms. It was actually really distracting.
The film came out in 1996, but even assuming it was filmed in ‘94 or ‘95, it just looks way older than that, like from the late ‘80s.
The Asian wardrobe, including the Tibetan prayer beads, were very distracting. I know they were part of the character, but it was still distracting. I think I’m just traumatized by the endless leather fringe jackets in On Deadly Ground.
Bob Gunton’s presence was also distracting, through no fault of his own. I just too strongly associate him with the character of “Junction Jack” on ”Greg The Bunny”.
Those Russian Mafia tattoos were the most blatant tattoos ever–there is no way to cover them up!!
I’ve already mentioned Seagal’s hand-slappy fighting, but I’m going to mention it again.
It’s stated by the polygraph technician that a poly can be beaten if someone completely controls his emotions, but “I don’t know anyone who can pull that off.” …really? There’s a reason they aren’t admissible in court. So long as a person believes what he’s saying, he’ll pass it, or if someone controls his heartrate, etc.
The doves at the Roslov house made me think about John Woo movies.
There are real flames in the explosions and in the apartment fire. I don’t want to say it’s nice to see flame, but real pyrotechnics are a far cry above CGI fire.
I know Cole is supposed to be the “Glimmer Man,” but he really stands out a lot, with his height and his beads. A movie about him actually being the Glimmer Man would have been more entertaining.
There were certainly a lot of ways to go with this film, and picking one of them, rather than seemingly mixing several, would have resulted in a better film.