Film review: Glimmer Man, The

No-action thriller's got cliches, gore; but acting and chemistry are scarce.

Published: Friday, Oct. 11 1996 12:00 a.m. MDT

Keenen Ivory Wayans has gotten the last laugh on his brother, Damon Wayans — since his new film is much funnier than Damon's. The problem, however, is that "Bulletproof" was supposed to be a comedy, while "The Glimmer Man" isn't.

Stealing from just about every "buddy" action picture, as well as the recent rash of serial-killer films, "The Glimmer Man" is yet another action-thriller that just isn't very thrilling. That comes as no surprise, though, given the track record of Keenen Wayans' co-star, Steven Seagal.

What is surprising is the fact that the violence has been turned up to an even more brutal and exploitative level than that in most of Seagal's other films, and that, with Wayans in tow, the number of obscenities uttered is up as well.

Seagal and Wayans are paired together as Los Angeles homicide detectives tracking "the Family Man," a serial killer who has slain six families in a ritualistic manner — the mother and father are nailed to the wall, in a mock-crucifixion motif.

Predictably, the two don't get along very well at first. Not only does Jim Campbell (Wayans) suspect there's more to Jack Cole (Seagal) than meets the eye, the pseudo-mystical Cole also has ties to the latest victims, one of whom just happens to be his ex-wife. He also manages to alienate his other co-workers and supervisors, as well as anger influential businessman Frank Deverell (Bob Gunton).

Cole, a former government operative nicknamed "the Glimmer Man," eventually has to share his secrets with Campbell, especially when he's framed for the latest murders and after he shoots the prime suspect in a church.

Together, the two try to clear him and find the connection between the murders and Deverell's shady business practices. But by then, they've been targeted for death by Deverell's men.

Director John Gray, who directed several acclaimed TV movies before moving to the big screen with the awful "Born to Be Wild," is really out of his league here. His artistic lensing of many of the film's better stunts makes them look staged rather than natural.

Of course, he was pretty much doomed for failure with first-time screenwriter Kevin Brodbin's cliched and foul-mouthed script. Even more damaging, his two stars have absolutely no chemistry.

It's obvious that Wayans fares better than Seagal dramatically, but a bit surprisingly, he actually performs better in the action sequences too — even displaying a decent flair for the physical side of his performance.

Not only is Seagal's acting as wooden as usual, he's also so paunchy now that the wardrobe department has garbed him in bulky jackets. And Gray has to speed up Seagal's martial-arts moves to make him seem like he's moving quickly — and that's only when he actually performs them.

Consequently, while the rest of the film is extremely unpleasant to look at, the fight and action scenes are hilariously bad and will probably disappoint most Seagal fans.

"The Glimmer Man" is rated R for violent fistfights, martial arts fights and gunfights, a constant stream of profanities, gory crime scenes, a gruesome torture scene, shots of nude bodies and a couple of vulgar references.