Plot: Dr. McLaren (Steven Seagal) has turned down the lures of cash and prestige to stay in rural Montana and raise his daughter in the splendor of that area. But that splendor has been shaken up of late, as a militant group of survivalists have been locked in an extended standoff with federal agents. When the group’s leader Floyd (Gailard Sartain) finally agree to surrender himself, he is put on trial and in the process, spits on the judge presiding over the case. Soon after, the judge begins to show some unusual symptoms and is taken to a local hospital, while McClaren is called in to provide his expert take on the situation. McClaren quickly realizes the situation is viral, when the judge’s illness spreads to others and while he tries to set up a quarantine of sorts, Floyd’s men soon show up to crash the situation. Can McClaren somehow contain the virus and figure out the plan of the militia, before an epidemic unfolds?
Entertainment Value: Steven Seagal against bio-terrorist rednecks? I can’t resist a premise like that and The Patriot delivers on that concept, unleashing Seagal on a horde of survivalists in the middle of viral outbreak. This was Seagal’s first movie that went straight to video and to be honest, it isn’t hard to see why, as this is a marked step down from his previous 90s action entries. The production values seem lower, the cast isn’t as well stocked, and the action scenes are scaled back, though still a step above most direct to video fare from this period. That being said, I still think there’s some fun to be had here, between the ridiculous plot and some typical Seagal style b movie vibes, despite the lowered bar involved. Seagal fans are likely to still appreciate his humorous lead effort and what action is present can be fun, but The Patriot runs at a more deliberate clip than most of his movies. The slower pace coupled with fewer action scenes spells some doom for the movie, as the b movie elements aren’t as prominent and Seagal’s presence alone isn’t enough to make it all work. So it has some sparks of Seagal magic, but not enough to make The Patriot an easy recommendation. But if you’re a big fan of his work or just have to see him fight viral rednecks, there you go.
This might not be one of Seagal’s best from the 90s, but it was made at a point where he was still putting passable effort into his performances. His later direct to video work would of course be a parade of mostly phoned in turns, but here he shows up to work and he hands in solid results. That is by Seagal standards obviously, as his blend of over the top and wooden isn’t going to dazzle everyone or rack up awards, but can be fun to watch at times. His sense of humor is toned down in The Patriot, so less one liners, but he still shows flashes of the on screen charm and personality that helped make him a star, so fans should appreciate that. I have no issues with Gailard Sartain as a performer, but he doesn’t exactly light up the movie as our villain, which gives Seagal less to work with and he often shines in his bad guy showdowns. But Sartain does add some b movie appeal, so there’s that. The cast here also includes L.Q. Jones, Camilla Belle, Brad Leland, and Silas Weir Mitchell.