For a rock’em, sock’em action thriller, “The Glimmer Man” is a hopelessly slow-moving, slow-witted shaggy-dog tale that delivers the jolts but lacks the juice necessary for high-voltage entertainment. The Steven Seagal vehicle is a listless search for a serial killer that trades heavily on coincidence and pop mysticism and ultimately seems more parody than conventional genre fare. It stacks up as one of the performer’s weaker theatrical entries, though pleasant enough filler material for pay cable and a picture that should move well in video rental.
Detective Jack Cole (Seagal) arrives in Los Angeles fresh from solving a series of grisly killings in Gotham. His new assignment is to find a serial murderer dubbed the Family Man — so-called for his penchant for wiping out households and arranging the corpses in a macabre, crucifixion tableau.
But before he has a chance to pick up the trail, Cole and partner Jim Campbell (Keenen Ivory Wayans) are summoned to quell a gun-wielding student holding his classmates hostage. The sequences proves to be more than just an excuse for a stunt. The distraught lad’s stepfather, nabob Frank Deverell (Bob Gunton), fairly oozes the stuff that constitutes villainy.
Kevin Brodbin’s script attempts a shotgun marriage between a standard procedural and a paranoid political thriller. The union doesn’t stick. Corrupt government agents, mercenaries and transplanted members of the Russian Mafia collide and trip over one another in an awkward ballet.
The preposterous twist is that the brutal murders aren’t solely the work of the perverse religious zealot. The fiendishly clever Deverell has taken the opportunity to have one of his henchmen eliminate several associates using the Family Man’s m.o. Cole immediately senses the ruse and pieces together a secondary sinister plot involving the Russkies, the CIA and illegal arms trading.
And as a capper, it turns out Cole isn’t who he appears to be. He’s a renegade black op who found the light from a Tibetan Buddhist monk. The Zen cop is certain his former agency boss (Brian Cox) is involved in Deverell’s treachery.
“The Glimmer Man” requires a series of leaps of faith that would daunt Carl Lewis. It might have arrived at some semblance of credibility had Seagal been partnered with Leslie Nielsen. Wayans simply isn’t very interesting as a punching bag who can’t quite figure out who his partner is or why he insists on wearing recherche Nehru jackets.
Seagal is one action performer whose ease in front of the camera has improved at a glacial rate. His new dilemma is an expanding girth that appears to have slowed both his verbal delivery and physical speed. The film’s editors have done exemplary work in masking much of the pic’s lethargy.
Director John Gray has made a slick piece of goods. The film is an inverse iceberg – there’s virtually nothing lurking beneath the surface. And, following its opening weekend, “The Glimmer Man” is unlikely to expand its star’s fan base.