Under Siege

This article is about the 1992 action film. For other uses, see Under Siege (disambiguation).
Under Siege

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 dates
  • 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 USS Missouri battleship.[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 mercenaries led by ex-CIA operative William "Bill" Strannix.

Strannix' 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 Tomahawks by unloading them onto a submarine he previously stole from North Korea. The CIA tried assassinating him prior to the events of the film. 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.

Krill realizes they forgot about Ryback and learns the kitchen is an unsecured area. Strannix sends two mercenaries to eliminate Ryback and Nash. Nash is killed, but Ryback eliminates the assassins and also creates a time bomb.

Ryback contacts Admiral Bates at the Pentagon on satellite phone, whereupon the Navy plans to send a SEAL team to retake the ship. Krill discovers Ryback is not just a Chief Petty Officer but a former Navy SEAL with extensive training in anti-terrorism tactics. 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 hears six sailors banging on pipes in Morse code and rescues them. Together, they overcome the ambush, shut off the water in the forecastle, and eliminate several terrorists. Ryback shuts down the Missouri's weapon systems to allow the incoming Navy SEALs to land. However, 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 the 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 guns to sink the submarine, killing Krill and everyone on board.

Strannix suffers a major concussion from being in the proximity of the Missouri's guns as they are fired. He 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, both of whom realize they know each other from prior covert experiences. Ryback disarms Strannix, and the two engage in a knife melee. Ryback gains the upper hand and stabs Strannix through the top of his head before ramming him into a computer monitor. Ryback 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. Ryback is checked by a Navy doctor, kissing Jordan as the crew looks on and cheers. A funeral ceremony for Captain Adams is held on the deck of the Missouri, showing the Captain's casket with a flag draped over it and Ryback saluting 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 Commander Krill, Missouri's sociopathic, corrupt Executive Officer who serves as Strannix's right-hand man aboard the ship.
  • Erika Eleniak as Jordan Tate, a Playboy Playmate model who came on board to entertain the ship's personnel.
  • Colm Meaney as Daumer, Strannix's main henchman.
  • Patrick O'Neal as Captain Adams, Commanding Officer of the Missouri.
  • Andy Romano as Admiral Bates, a high-ranking member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • Dale Dye as Captain Nick Garza, Admiral Bates' 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"
  • Bernie Casey as "Cmdr. 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.
  • Richard Andrew Jones as Mr. Pitt, Technician and Strannix's assistant.
  • Eddie Bo Smith Jr. as Shadow, one of Strannix's henchman.
  • Dru Ann Carlson as Captain Spellman, Admiral Bates' aide.
  • George Cheung as a commando (credited as George Kee Cheung)
  • 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.

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

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.

Reviewers praised Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Busey's performances as the film's villains.[8][9][10] Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 75% based on reviews from 24 critics.[11] 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).[12] However, it did not win in either category.

In 2001, it was one of 400 films nominated for the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Thrills list.[13]

See also


  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. 1 2 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. "Under Siege". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  9. 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.
  10. Wilmington, Michael (1992-10-09). "'Under Siege' Delivers Laughs, Thrills". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-09-10.
  11. Rotten Tomatoes - Under Siege
  12. "The 65th Academy Awards (1993) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-10-22.
  13. "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Thrills: America's Most Heart-Pounding Movies" (PDF). American Film Institute. Retrieved July 18, 2010.

External links

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