Under Siege

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Under Siege
StevenSeagalUnderSiege cover.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Andrew Davis[1]
Produced by
Written by J. F. Lawton
Music by
Cinematography Frank Tidy
Edited by
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date
  • October 9, 1992 (1992-10-09)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $35 million[2]
Box office $156.6 million

Under Siege is a 1992 American action-thriller film directed by Andrew Davis and written by J.F. Lawton. It stars Steven Seagal as an ex-Navy SEAL who must stop a group of mercenaries, led by Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey on the U.S. Navy battleship USS Missouri.[3] It is Seagal's most successful film in critical and financial terms, including two Academy Award nominations for sound production. The musical score was composed by Gary Chang. It was followed by a 1995 sequel, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory.


The battleship USS Missouri (BB-63) arrives at Pearl Harbor, where George H. W. Bush announces that the ship will be decommissioned in California, making the trip her final voyage. Casey Ryback, a Chief Petty Officer assigned as a cook, prepares meals in celebration of the birthday of Captain Adams, against the orders of Commander Krill, who is having food and entertainment brought by helicopter.

Krill and other officers provoke a brawl with Ryback. Unable to imprison Ryback in the brig without clearance from the captain, Krill detains Ryback in a freezer and places a Marine, Private Nash, on guard. A helicopter lands on the ship's deck with a musical band, along with Playmate Jordan Tate and a group of caterers who are really a band of commandos led by ex-CIA operative William "Bill" Strannix, who was unsuccessfully targeted by his boss, Tom Breaker, for elimination prior to the film after the CIA had realized that Strannix was dangerously unreliable.

Strannix's forces seize control of the ship with Krill's help. Several officers are killed, including Adams. Ryback hears the gunshots and begs Nash to free him, but Nash refuses, thinking it is fireworks. The surviving ship's company are imprisoned in the forecastle, except for some stragglers in unsecured areas. Strannix intends to sell the ship's Tomahawk missiles by unloading them onto a submarine he previously stole from North Korea. Strannix and his men take over the ship's weapon systems, shooting down a jet sent to investigate, and plan on covering their escape by using missiles to obliterate tracking systems in Pearl Harbor.

When Ryback's constant insistence causes Private Nash to finally contact the bridge, Krill realizes they forgot about Ryback, and Strannix sends two mercenaries to eliminate Ryback and Nash. Nash is killed, but Ryback eliminates the assassins and also leaves a time bomb for any hostiles investigating their fellows mercenaries' disappearance. During his search of the Missouri, he picks up Tate, an innocent decoy in Strannix's plan, and allows her to tag along. He contacts Admiral Bates at the Pentagon on satellite phone, whereupon the Navy informs him about them sending a SEAL team to retake the ship.

After discovering their dead operatives and Ryback's escape, Krill finds out that Ryback is not just a Chief Petty Officer, but a former Navy SEAL with extensive training in anti-terrorism tactics who lost his status after his entire team was eliminated in a botched operation due to poor intelligence, prompting Ryback to retaliate against his commanding officer. To keep the missile-theft plan in place, Krill activates the fire suppression system in the forecastle, leaving the crew members to drown. The terrorists expect that Ryback will try to save his colleagues, and set up an ambush.

Ryback and Tate hear six sailors banging on pipes in Morse code and rescue them. Together, they overcome the ambush, sabotage the weapon systems' power circuits, shut off the water in the forecastle, and eliminate several terrorists. Ryback shuts down Missouri's weapon systems to allow the incoming Navy SEALs to land, but the submarine crew shoots down the helicopter carrying the Navy SEALs with shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. The Pentagon responds by ordering an air strike that will sink Missouri. Strannix regains control of the ship's weapon systems and loads the Tomahawks onto the submarine. With the aid of a retired World War II Gunner's Mate, who was among the six sailors rescued earlier, Ryback uses the battleship's 16-inch (410 mm) guns to sink the submarine, killing Krill and everyone on board.

Strannix, suffering from a major concussion from being in the proximity of Missouri's guns as they were fired, and from a breakdown from Ryback continually thwarting his scheme, launches two nuclear-tipped Tomahawks towards Honolulu. As the sailors recapture the ship, Ryback finds his way into the control room, where he is surprised by Strannix; the two quickly recognize each other from their prior covert experiences. Ryback disarms Strannix, and the two engage in a knife melee. Ryback gains the upper hand, kills Strannix, and takes the launch code disk needed to self-destruct the Tomahawk missiles. A fighter jet destroys one of the missiles, and the other is deactivated just in time; the Navy calls off its airstrike.

The remaining crew members are freed as the ship sails towards San Francisco harbor. A funeral ceremony for Captain Adams is held on the deck of Missouri, showing Ryback saluting the captain's coffin in his formal dress uniform with full decorations.


USS Missouri
  • Steven Seagal as Chief Petty Officer Casey Ryback, a former Navy SEAL who now serves as the personal cook for the captain of the USS Missouri.
  • Tommy Lee Jones as William "Bill" Strannix, a renegade, embittered ex-CIA operative who leads the team of terrorists.
  • Gary Busey as Krill, the Missouri's sociopathic, corrupt executive officer who serves as Strannix's inside man & second-in-command.
  • Erika Eleniak as Jordan Tate, a Playboy Playmate model who came on board to entertain the ship's personnel, and becomes Ryback's sidekick for the course of the movie.
  • Colm Meaney as Daumer, Strannix's subordinate.
  • Patrick O'Neal as Captain Adams, Commanding Officer of Missouri.
  • Andy Romano as Admiral Bates, a high-ranking member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • Dale Dye as Captain Nick Garza, Admiral Bates's advisor. Garza is a SEAL who vouches for Ryback.
  • Nick Mancuso as Tom Breaker, the CIA director and Strannix's former boss.
  • Damian Chapa as Tackman, a sailor on board the Missouri.
  • Tom Wood as Private Nash, a naive United States Marine.
  • Troy Evans as Granger, an officer aboard the ship.
  • Dennis Lipscomb as Trenton, National Security Advisor.
  • David McKnight as Flicker, an officer aboard the ship.
  • Lee Hinton as "Cue Ball".
  • Sandy Ward as Calaway, a retired WWII gunner’s mate second class 44-46 aboard the ship
  • Duane Davis as Johnson, another sailor on board the “Missouri”
  • Bernie Casey as Commander Harris.
  • Glenn Morshower as Ensign Taylor, an arrogant junior officer who strongly dislikes Ryback.
  • Leo Alexander as Lieutenant Smart.
  • John Rottger as Commander Green, Operations Officer.
  • Raymond Cruz as Ramirez, Ryback's assistant cook.
  • Eddie Bo Smith Jr. as Shadow, Strannix’s elite commando.
  • Richard Andrew Jones as Pitt, Strannix's technician.
  • Dru Ann Carlson as Captain Spellman, Admiral Bates's aide.
  • George Cheung as a technician, Pitt’s technical assistant (credited as George Kee Cheung).
  • Kane Hodder as a commando.
  • George H. W. Bush as himself (archive footage, uncredited).
  • Barbara Bush as herself (archive footage, uncredited).


The USS Alabama museum ship stood in for most of the Missouri sequences, and the USS Drum portrayed the North Korean submarine.[citation needed]

The film makes extensive use of the Introvision process, a variation of front projection that allows realistic three-dimensional interaction of foreground characters with projected backgrounds without the heavy cost of traditional bluescreen effects.[4] The technique was also used in the films Outland, Megaforce, Army of Darkness and Andrew Davis' later film, The Fugitive.[4]

Critical and box office reception[edit]

On its opening weekend, Under Siege made $15,760,003 from 2,042 theaters, with a $7,717 average.[5][6] From there, it went on to make $83,563,139. Worldwide, it made $156,563,139.[7] At the time, it was the most successful film ever that had not been screened for any critics prior to its release.

Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A-" on an A+ to F scale.[8]

Reviewers praised Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey's performances as the film's villains.[9][10][11] Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 76% based on reviews from 24 critics.[12] This is one of the few Steven Seagal films to be certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, along with Executive Decision and Machete, being called "Die Hard on a battleship" by film critics.

It was also the only Seagal movie to receive an Academy Award nomination, earning two nominations for Best Sound Effects Editing (John Leveque and Bruce Stambler) and for Best Sound (Donald O. Mitchell, Frank A. Montaño, Rick Hart and Scott D. Smith).[13] However, it did not win in either category.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fox, David J. (1992-10-20). "Seagal Has Blast With Unlikely Success of 'Siege'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  2. ^ Muzila, Tom (November 1992). "Seagal Strikes Back at Terrorists in New Flick". Black Belt. 30 (11): 106. 
  3. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (1992-10-26). "The Talk of Hollywood; Director Who Blends Action With a Bit of Art". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  4. ^ a b Marx, Andy (1994-02-21). "Introvision sees the 'Light'". Variety. Retrieved 2013-02-06. 
  5. ^ Fox, David J. (1992-10-13). "Weekend Box Office A Bang-Up Opening for `Under Siege'". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-12-01. 
  6. ^ Fox, David J. (1992-10-20). "Seagal Has Blast With Unlikely Success of 'Siege'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  7. ^ "Under Siege". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2015-12-29. 
  8. ^ "CinemaScore". cinemascore.com. 
  9. ^ "Under Siege". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  10. ^ Canby, Vincent (1992-10-09). "Review/Film; Steven Seagal on a Ship in Hot Water". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 4, 2014. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  11. ^ Wilmington, Michael (1992-10-09). "'Under Siege' Delivers Laughs, Thrills". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-10. 
  12. ^ Rotten Tomatoes - Under Siege
  13. ^ "The 65th Academy Awards (1993) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-22. 

External links[edit]