If Steven Seagal's clichéd, loose-cannon cop, Orin Boyd, had a theme song, it would probably be "My Way" -- as rapped by DMX, who plays his unlikely partner in crime-stopping, Latrell Walker. But it's the highway for maverick Boyd. He's exiled to walk a beat in Detroit's worst precinct, the 15th, after his latest bullet-ridden stunt: an unauthorized rescue of the vice president that pitted his David against a legion of armed-to-the-teeth, corrupt-cop Goliaths.
Boyd's a slow learner. In another extracurricular mission, he happens onto what appears to be Walker dealing heroin and makes a bust. The deal turns out to be a police sting operation set up by one of his precinct's narcotics officers -- but who gets stung? Alleged dealer Walker escapes after opening up a frosty 40-ounce of urban-kung fu whup-ass on Boyd. Boyd gets busted down to traffic cop for botching the setup.
The plot twists like a downtown side street and Boyd and Walker find themselves on the same side. Both smell something rotten cooking in the 15th. Both have their own agendas for rooting it out.
The producer of "Exit Wounds," Joel Silver, presented a more feel-good, more martial arts-driven version of Clint Eastwood's maverick cop icon, Dirty Harry, in "Lethal Weapon" (1987), with Mel Gibson's lighter (if not brighter) hero and his reluctant black partner, Danny Glover. But Seagal's maverick cops have always leaned toward self-parody, amped-up the martial arts contribution with their legendary Aikido chops, and had a few black partners themselves.
Seagal, at 50, might be ready to mouth Glover's pet complaint: "I'm gettin' too old for this shit." Director Andrzej Bartkowiak (who explicitly shot Jet Li's lethal choreography in his bold directorial debut, Romeo Must Die) seems to avoid showing Seagal's moves and blandly handles the roller-coaster-ride, complex-action set pieces like a TV director. Though DMX is charismatic and Anthony Anderson's TK provides the same kind of hilarious slapstick gangster-stooge comic relief as his Maurice in "Romeo Must Die," "Exit Wounds" still shoots itself in the foot.