Under Siege 2: Dark Territory

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Under Siege 2: Dark Territory
Man holding on to the outside of a speeding train.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGeoff Murphy
Produced byArnon Milchan
Steven Seagal
Steve Perry
Written byRichard Hatem
Matt Reeves
Based onCharacters
by J.F. Lawton
Music byBasil Poledouris
CinematographyRobbie Greenberg
Edited byMichael Tronick
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • July 14, 1995 (1995-07-14)
Running time
100 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$60 million[1][2]
Box office$105 million[2]

Under Siege 2: Dark Territory is a 1995 American action thriller film directed by Geoff Murphy, starring Steven Seagal as the ex-Navy SEAL, Casey Ryback. Set on board a train traveling through the Rocky Mountains from Denver to Los Angeles, it is the sequel to the 1992 film Under Siege also starring Seagal.[3] The title refers to the railroading term that the subject train was travelling through dark territory, a section of railroad track that has no train signals and in which communications between train dispatchers and the railroad engineers were impossible.

The film was produced by Seagal along with Arnon Milchan and Steve Perry.[4] The film's cast also included Eric Bogosian, Everett McGill, Morris Chestnut, Peter Greene, Kurtwood Smith and Katherine Heigl. In addition to Seagal, Nick Mancuso, Andy Romano, and Dale Dye also reprised their roles from the first film.


Ex-Navy SEAL Casey Ryback has retired from the United States Navy and has settled in Denver, Colorado, owning and running a restaurant named Mile High Cafe, where he is also an executive chef. Sometime after, his estranged brother, James Ryback, dies in a plane crash. Casey meets James's daughter, Sarah, whom he will accompany to Los Angeles to attend his funeral. The two board the Grand Continental, a train traveling from Denver to Los Angeles through the Rocky Mountains. On board, they befriend a porter named Bobby Zachs and the train's chefs.

As the train approaches the Rocky Mountains, it is hijacked by armed mercenaries, led by former U.S. government computer hacker Travis Dane and his right-hand man and mercenary leader Marcus Penn. Dane was the main engineer that designed and worked on Grazer One, a top-secret military satellite particle weapon designed to destroy underground targets. The military fired Dane due to his mental instability; Dane later faked his suicide.

The mercenaries take the train's passengers and staff hostage, herding them into the last two cars. Casey kills one mercenary, then slips away. Among the hostages are two former United States Department of Defense colleagues who worked with Dane. Dane threatens them with torture unless they reveal the codes to take over Grazer. Despite giving up the codes, they are thrown from the train and killed. During the course of events, Zachs becomes Casey's sidekick.

Terrorists have offered Dane $1 billion to destroy the Eastern seaboard through using Grazer to target a nuclear reactor located underneath the Pentagon. Dane demonstrates Grazer to investors by destroying a Chinese chemical weapons plant. After one investor offers an additional $100 million, Dane destroys an airliner carrying the investor's ex-wife.

The U.S. government has difficulty locating Dane or Grazer, because as long as the train keeps moving, they cannot pinpoint his location. When officials destroy what they think is Grazer, Dane explains the NSA's premier intelligence satellite was destroyed instead. However, Casey faxes a message to his assistant manager at the Mile High Cafe, who contacts Admiral Bates. Bates reluctantly approves a stealth bomber strike to destroy the train.

Zachs discovers that they are on the wrong tracks and on a collision course with a Southern Pacific freight train hauling gasoline tank cars. Since the trains are in dark territory, it was impossible for the train dispatchers to communicate with the trains' engineers to stop the trains to avoid collision. Casey kills the mercenaries one by one and detaches the last two cars containing the hostages from the rest of the train while Dane and Penn plan to abandon most of the mercenaries to certain death with the hostages by leaving via helicopter with some of their elite members.

Dane uses his computer skills to locate the stealth bombers and re-targets Grazer to knock them out before they can complete their mission. Meanwhile, Penn had previously captured Sarah and uses her as bait for Casey. Casey confronts Penn and breaks his neck after a fight that spills into the kitchen.

Casey then finds Dane about to depart in a chopper hovering over the train. When Dane informs Casey that there is no way to stop Grazer from destroying Washington, Casey shoots him. The bullet destroys Dane's computer, cellphone and injures Dane. Pentagon control of the satellite is restored and it is destroyed by remote control seconds before it would have fired on the Pentagon.

The Grand Continental and freight train collide on a trestle. Casey races through the exploding train and grabs a rope ladder dangling from the chopper. Dane, who has survived Casey's bullet, catches on to the ladder. He attempts to climb into the helicopter but falls to his death in the fireball below when Casey shuts the helicopter door on his hands. With Casey, Sarah, Zachs, and the mercenary helicopter pilot (who Zachs has at gunpoint) as the survivors, Casey confirms the safety of the hostages. Later, Sarah and Casey pay their last respects at James's grave.


  • Steven Seagal as Lieutenant Casey Ryback, a former Navy SEAL who now heads and manages a restaurant in Denver
  • Eric Bogosian as Travis Dane, a crazed computer genius-turned-cyberterrorist leader who designed the Grazer One satellite weapon for the US government before being dismissed for his mental instability
  • Everett McGill as Marcus Penn, the mercenary commander & Dane's second-in-command who leads a team of terrorists to hijack the Grand Continental train to set up the satellite equipment
  • Katherine Heigl as Sarah Ryback, Ryback's niece who accompanies him on the train to go to her father's funeral
  • Morris Chestnut as Bobby Zachs, an eager porter of the train who reluctantly helps Ryback with the hijacked train
  • Nick Mancuso as Tom Breaker, the shady CIA director who assists ATAC on Grazer One
  • Brenda Bakke as Captain Linda Gilder, a member of ATAC and one of Dane's former colleagues
  • Peter Greene as Mercenary #1, Penn's lieutenant who was once instructed by Ryback at Fort Bragg
  • Patrick Kilpatrick as Mercenary #2, One of Penn's mercenaries
  • Scott Sowers as Mercenary #3, One of Penn's mercenaries
  • Afifi Alaouie as Fatima, another of Penn's mercenaries
  • Andy Romano as Admiral Bates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
  • Dale Dye as Captain Nick Garza, Admiral Bates' right-hand man
  • Kurtwood Smith as Major General Stanley Cooper, an Air Force general who commands ATAC and Dane's former boss
  • David Gianopoulos as Captain David Trilling, a member of ATAC and one of Dane's former colleagues
  • Sandra Taylor as Kelly, a barmaid on board the train
  • Jonathan Banks as Scotty, the mercenary driver under the orders of Penn to drive the locomotive of the Grand Continental train
  • Royce D. Applegate as Ryback's cook who runs the restaurant when Ryback is absent
  • Dale Payne as Train Conductor



The film was an early credit for Matt Reeves who wrote the script with a friend of his in college. Reeves later said, "There was a big action spec market, a lot of movies that were selling, and so we wrote this movie with my thought being, ‘And then I will be able to finance my student film and that way I can become a director’."[5]

The script was called Dark Territory at one stage and End of the Line at another. When they finished writing it "the spec market crashed and it didn’t sell." But the script was optioned and eventually Warner Brothers optioned it and decided to turn the film into a sequel to Under Siege.[5]

Reeves said the film was originally "meant to be very much like a Die Hard movie, which I guess Under Siege really was too, except the difference was that in the Under Siege movies that tension is how soon before Segal will rip out someone's larynx. And what I love about Die Hard was this idea of the underdog, that here's this guy, especially in that first movie, who's a cop from New York who doesn’t even have shoes. And somehow he has got to save this building, save the day. That was what that movie was supposed to be, but it didn’t end up being that."[5]


According to Morris Chestnut Seagal rewrote many of the scenes he was in. "The only time that really stuck to the script or had ad libs was the stuff when he really wasn’t there. It was a lot of stuff, because at that time I think he was flying a helicopter, he was doing something... He would come to set, "Okay, you’re gonna say this. I’m gonna say this and this is gonna happen and then you do that." That's how we did a lot of that movie."[6]

Part of the film was shot in Chatsworth's Stony Point Park. The production painted some of the boulders, which upset rock climbers who claimed it made them unsafe.[7]

The locomotive seen in the film had previously appeared in the 1985 film Runaway Train.

Director Geoff Murphy called making the film "a very dreary process and very highly contentious at the time – lots of arguments and stuff. There was a point during the editing where I observed this incredibly high energy beast emerging, and I didn't know where it had come from, because there wasn't any of that energy on the set. It seemed to grow out of the editing process."[8]


Box office[edit]

Under Siege 2 opened at #2 at the box office under Apollo 13 in 2,150 theaters and made $12,624,402 for the weekend.[9]

Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the review aggregation website, the film has an approval rating of 34% based on 32 reviews and an average rating of 4.73/10. The site's critical consensus states, "Utterly forgettable and completely unnecessary, Under Siege 2 represents a steep comedown from its predecessor – and an unfortunate return to form for its star."[10] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 52 out of 100 based on reviews from 21 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[11] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[12]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a three-star rating in his review,[13] while Peter Rainer of the Los Angeles Times wrote that "the action upstaged the actors."[14] Leonard Klady of Variety magazine notes Seagal's confidence but says he is betrayed by his limited performance. Klady praises the villains for their performances, but says "they and others are saddled with pedestrian dialogue and motivation."[15]


Seagal was later criticized for his behavior during the film. Jenny McCarthy unsuccessfully auditioned for a role in the film. She said Seagal auditioned her and asked her to take off her clothes.[16]

Katherine Heigl, who was sixteen at the time the film was made, said that on the last day of filming Seagal told her, "'You know Katie, I got girlfriends your age.' And I said, 'Isn't that illegal?' And he said, 'They don't seem to mind'."[17]


On October 3, 2016, Seagal announced on Twitter that the script for Under Siege 3 was in development.[18]


  1. ^ Marylynn Uricchio, P. (May 16, 1995). "Box-office bonanzas or bombs?". Pittsburgh Post–Gazette. ProQuest 391879774.
  2. ^ a b "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory (1995) – Financial Information". The Numbers.
  3. ^ Holden, Stephen (1995-07-15). "FILM REVIEW; All Aboard for Cataclysm And Just Forget the Bar Car". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  4. ^ Brennan, Judy (1994-09-25). "Steven Seagal, Please Call Your Accountant". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-25.
  5. ^ a b c "Director Matt Reeves Spills Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Secrets". Empire. 21 July 2014.
  6. ^ Topel, Fred (August 27, 2014). "EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: MORRIS CHESTNUT ON 'LEGENDS' AND UNDER SIEGE 2". Craveonline.
  7. ^ Riccardi, N. (Apr 7, 1995). "Rock climbers see red when film crew paints boulders outdoors: Movie company covers over graffiti-and tiny ledges and wrinkles-at two spots in a chatsworth park. climbers blame city for allowing it". Los Angeles Times. ProQuest 293182019.
  8. ^ MacDonald, Nikki (October 3, 2015). "Filmmaker Geoff Murphy on building a film industry, frame by painful frame". Stuff.
  9. ^ Dutka, Elaine (1995-07-18). "Weekend Box Office : 'Under Siege' Opens in No. 2 Spot". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-01-13.
  10. ^ "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-07-07.
  11. ^ Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, retrieved 2019-04-30
  12. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 2018-12-20.
  13. ^ "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  14. ^ Rainer, Peter (1995-07-17). "Under Siege 2 Plays Out Pyrotechnics". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-05.
  15. ^ "Under Siege 2: Dark Territory". Variety. July 17, 1995.
  16. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: The Full Steven Seagal Story Jenny McCarthy Told Movieline in 1998". Movieline. 10 April 2010.
  17. ^ "The Skeezy Way Steven Seagal Treated Katherine Heigl On The Set Of Under Siege 2". Cinemablend.
  18. ^ "Steven Seagal on Twitter".

External links[edit]