Brief Note on the Representation of Violent Individualism in Under Siege 2

In a very familiar scene and situation the wooden Steven Segal explains to his unwilling sidekick that his main concern in his attempts at freeing the train from terrorists is the hostages’ safety and wellbeing. However, Segal’s initial act of defiance (he fails to surrender) causes the brutal death of three chefs (who appear to be his friends). Segal’s reckless and violent individualism causes three innocent lives – something his attempt tried to save – to be wasted brutally. One could easily argue that the utility (forthcoming happiness) which arises out of his action is eventually beneficial because it enables him to stop the entire train – it robs the terrorist of the deadly weapon. However, it is also as easily argued that Segal’s brand of reckless egoism and self-survival causes the destruction of innocent lives at a comparable rate. The very same expertise and egoism which Segal’s character displays can also be found in his antithesis “Travis Dane”. Dane is a former weapons designer whose technology was utilized by the American Government – without the credit being given to Dane. Although Dane is clearly “evil” in his goal to be rich and powerful – breaking all manner of invisible codes of conduct – his actions display the same reckless individualism as Segal. Both characters use whatever means possible to achieve their end, and the only difference being that at the end of the film Segal wins. This contradiction is common in the action genre however it is often overlooked that both good and evil employ an ethics of “anything goes” because of the cathartic effect of violence metered out upon the evil characters. The ethical stance found within this film and the traditional action genre is interesting and seems to employ a Utilitarian understanding of right and wrong. I will write further upon this issue in the coming year.