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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: The Glimmer Man

November 15, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
The Glimmer Man

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #436: The Glimmer Man

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never released a blues album, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number four hundred and thirty-six, I take a look at the sort of buddy cop martial arts serial killer action movie The Glimmer Man starring Steven Seagal and Keenan Ivory Wayans and which hit movie theatres in the fall of 1996.

The Glimmer Man

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The Glimmer Man, directed by John Gray, is a movie that, in retrospect, is incredibly important in the career of action star Steven Seagal. It wasn’t that important at the time, outside of it being a rare flop for Seagal. But, when you look at Seagal’s direct-to-video output the last decade-and-a-half, The Glimmer Man is the prototype for just about everything he started doing starting with The Foreigner in 2003.

Seagal is Lt. Jack Cole, a mysterious, weird as hell badass cop with the LAPD who is brought in to help investigate the “Family Man” serial murders, as Cole is a kind of expert in tracking down and taking out serial killers (he did it in New York City before he came out to the west coast). Cole’s partner is Detective Jim Campbell (Keenan Ivory Wayans), a tough yet sensitive cop who really doesn’t want to work with Cole because the guy is just too damn weird. And where the hell did Cole come from? Yes, he came from New York, he has a reputation for being unorthodox, but how did he end up in Los Angeles? Hell, how did he become a cop? Cole wears unusual clothes (he isn’t a suit and tie kind of guy, at least not every day), he constantly carries around Buddhism prayer beads, and he’s a martial arts master of some sort. And that’s just the stuff people generally know about Cole. Cole has a whole side no one seems to know much about at all. In fact, Campbell has his colleague Detective Roden (Richard Grant) run a background check on Cole, a check that turns up very little.

So Cole and Campbell start their Family Man investigation, checking the files, the crime scenes, the bodies, etc. Nothing turns up at first, but during an autopsy Cole notices something strange about a female victim. Why is she Russian? This suspicion ends up connecting to random police event that Cole and Campbell participated in, stopping a hostage situation at a local high school involving Johnny Deverell (Johnny Strong), the son of local crime figure and businessman Frank Deverell (Junction Jack hisself Bob Gunton). Deverell has connections to the local Russian mob. Coincidence? Maybe. And then again, maybe not.

So then some stuff happens, the Family Man racks up more victims, and we find out that Cole’s ex-wife was one of the serial killer’s latest victims and that Cole’s finger prints were found at the scene. Could he be the Family Man? It’s bullshit, sure, but since no one seems to know much about Cole his fellow cops, including his partner Campbell, think it could be possible. While all of that is going on, Cole notices something about the latest crime scene. Is there a copycat Family Man out there?

So then some more stuff happens, Cole contacts an old friend from his mysterious past (Mr. Smith, as played by Brian Cox), and we find out that Cole used to work for the CIA. Cole asks Smith if there are operators in the area or if he knows anything about Deverell and the Russian mob. Smith, as CIA people in movies tend to do, claims to know nothing about everything. Cole knows that Smith is full of shit and knows that something is up, something is going on, but what? Cole beats up some of Smith’s henchmen in a hellacious restaurant fight scene, then continues his investigation.

It’s at this point that we meet the actual Family Man killer, a deranged guy named Christopher Maynard (Stephen Tobolowsky). Cole takes him down inside of a church, and we find out that Cole’s suspicions of a copycat Family Man killer and a connection to Deverell and the Russian mob and Smith are real. Something major is going on, something bigger than a mere serial killer on the loose.

The Glimmer Man is, at best, insanely complicated. I’m assuming the whole serial killer part of the story was used because Seven came out in 1995 and was very popular. Otherwise, there’s no real reason for it being in the movie as the main story involves the criminal conspiracy between Deverell and the Russian mob and Mr. Smith. The movie could have easily focused on that and still had Cole and Campbell work together as new partners. What’s wrong with having Cole as a badass cop who specializes in investigating big time criminal conspiracies?

Of course, it might have been cool, too, if the whole serial killer thing led to a big conspiracy involving a cult operating in Los Angeles, but then that would have made The Glimmer Man more of a horror thriller than an action movie, which is what Warner Bros obviously didn’t want. So, again, why not just have Cole as a special investigator who ferrets out big time criminal conspiracies or something like that? Wouldn’t that have made more sense? Seagal still would have been able to wear his Asian influenced clothes, hang out at the Chinese medicine store, and be an ex-black ops killer with that story. So what the hell is going on there?

There’s also an element of “potential franchise starter” with the story, as it ends with several loose threads available for future stories. We know that Jack Cole isn’t Jack Cole’s real name, that he moves around from state to state and police force to police force, and that with his mysterious black ops history the man has enemies. And when you consider that Mr. Smith isn’t dead at the end of the movie, why wouldn’t he send someone after Cole in a part 2? Smith could find him. The CIA can find anyone, right?

Now, if you don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to Seagal’s direct-to-video output in relation to The Glimmer Man, I encourage you to check out damn near anything he’s done the last fifteen years (except Urban Justice, Machete, and A Good Man as those movies are pretty straightforward). Complicated stories that don’t make any goddamn sense, weird personal details, and mysterious black ops pasts. It’s almost like Seagal has been remaking The Glimmer Man over and over again, either trying to make it make sense or trying to make it even weirder.

Despite its weirdness and nonsense story, The Glimmer Man is very watchable. The cast is good, the action scenes are exciting, and Seagal’s epic brawl in the restaurant is something to behold. It’s not his best indoors fight scene, but it’s better than most from the mid-1990’s. Why the hell doesn’t he do this more often now? I know that experimentation is important, but, still, watchability should be the paramount concern for everyone involved.

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Seagal is, as I’ve said, weird as hell in this as Jack Cole. The little details Seagal gives him would only appear in a Steven Seagal movie. At the same time, Seagal is still in total command of his big screen badass persona here, and because he’s still sort of in shape it appears to be him in most of the fight scenes. Seagal is also kind of funny here, which makes sense since his partner is comedian Keenan Ivory Wayans. And Seagal and Wayans have excellent chemistry here. As for Wayans himself, he does a decent job as the smart ass cop Detective Campbell. He’s funny, as you’d expect him to be, and he’s able to keep up with Seagal in the movie’s action scenes. Why the hell didn’t Wayans have more of an action career? He did this movie and then Most Wanted in 1997, which was awesome. It’s a damn shame he didn’t try/didn’t get the opportunity.

Bob Gunton does a fine job as crime boss Frank Deverell. He does his usual slimebag villain thing and it’s always a joy to watch. Brian Cox is hilarious as Mr. Smith, the CIA guy. He’s a soft spoken Southern gentleman with a mean streak just under the surface. His facial expressions in the restaurant watching Cole beat the crap out of his henchmen are a must watch. Various sources on the internets claim that Tommy Lee Jones was the original Mr. Smith but he dropped out. That performance, no doubt, would have been interesting to see (Strannix and Ryback together again!) but it wouldn’t have been as eerie as Cox’s. Jones would have been more of a smartass.

Now, is it me or do Deverell and Smith have a gay lover vibe between them? Perhaps I’m just reading too much into their pool scene, where they’re walking around in bathrobes and smoking cigars and drinking expensive alcohol, but, man, it isn’t hard to see them as lovers. Listen to the way Cox talks about taking a dip in the pool. Am I nuts?

John M. Jackson does a good job as main Deverell henchman Donald Cunningham. He doesn’t have much to do until the end of the movie, but you get the sense that he’s a bad guy immediately. Stephen Tobolowsky gives a deranged performance as Christopher Maynard. It’s hard seeing him as a serial killer, but he does a good enough job to make you think he’s batshit insane.

The Glimmer Man is probably going to annoy non-Seagal fans. They’re not going to respond positively to its strange story or its star’s weird characterization. Seagal fans, though, will probably like it. I like it, eventhough I know that it would have been a better movie with a more straightforward story. It’s strange as hell but it is still very watchable. Sometimes that’s all that matters.

See The Glimmer Man. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 21

Explosions: Several, including an exceptional apartment explosion (ha, that happened with last week’s review of Contract to Kill, too).

Nudity?: A little.

Doobage: Silencer hooey, bullet to the head, a bustling police department, a gruesome crime scene, multiple personal questions, a hostage situation in a Catholic school, two cell phones, tandem window smashing, Chinese herbal remedy store hooey, an excellent throat slitting scene where Seagal takes out multiple bad guys with a razorblade hidden inside of a credit card, arm breaking, another bullet to the head, rain, a secret background check, a funeral, a great restaurant brawl, food eating, testicle grabbing, homeless people in church, an internal affairs investigation that involves a lie detector test, a bathroom conference, intruder fighting, poolside chit chat, a one-on-one brawl, TV smashing, a massive fire, exploding apartment, beating a guy with a gun, wild flip, exploding tanker truck, insane asylum hooey, kidnapping, foot shooting, hand shooting, “welfare hotel” hooey, a shootout, multiple brutal headshots, shithead kids with fake guns, serious window breaking, a brutal one-on-one brawl, telephone to the head, and a head impaled on a fence post.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Keenan Ivory Wayans, Richard Gant, Steven Seagal, Steven Seagal wearing a weird jacket, Bob Gunton, Steven Seagal announcing that no one threatens him, spiritualism bullshit, Steven Seagal removing a dead woman’s breast implant, Steven Seagal hanging out in a Chinese herbal remedy store, powdered deer penis, Tibetan prayer beads, Steven Seagal killing multiple bad guys with a razorblade hidden inside of a credit card, Steven Seagal praying in his personal Buddhist temple, Brian Cox, a Christian funeral, Steven Seagal beating the crap out of bad guys in a restaurant, Steven Seagal answering the phone at the restaurant, a picture of Mathias Hues on a Most Wanted sign (if it isn’t him it sure as hell looks like him), talk of organic therapy, Steven Seagal claiming to have climbed Mount Everest, Steven Seagal taking a lie detector test, Keenan Ivory Wayans watching Casablanca, Brian Cox explaining The Glimmer Man title, Brian Cox and Bob Gunton hanging out poolside, Peter Jason, a weather report on TV, and Steven Seagal repelling down the side of a building.

Best lines: “Yo, man, why don’t you just try crack?,” “This ain’t the same, Jim,” “So, are you married or what?,” “Sorry, Johnny. Put the gun down,” “You don’t understand! I can’t go back with him!,” “I love you, Johnny! I love you, too! I love you, too. I hate this job,” “Rich people’s kids are always fucked up,” “Nice coat,” “Just what is it you do for this man?,” “Now get your white ass out of here and don’t come back,” “Wait, I thought he was the Amazing Randy?,” “I think we’ve set a very good example,” “Do you know I’m black? I have no idea what you’re saying,” “If I need a cleansing I’ll have a bran muffin,” “Fuck you, pig,” “Get down on your knees. Sorry, not without dinner and a movie,” “He’s a little country, I’m a little rock and roll,” “I saw him use a credit card like a goddamn Ginsu knife!,” “I ain’t always been a cop. That’s all I can say right now,” “Bye, buddy,” “You know, you shouldn’t knock Chinese potions,” “Do you validate parking?,” “I had a feeling I was going to die today,” “I want you to know I didn’t hurt her,” “This is God’s house! Don’t make me do this!,” “What the fuck are you doing here?,” “I don’t want freelance cops working for me,” “Which one of those did you just piss in?,” “You’re asking me if I’ve ever seen Casablanca?,” “They say he was saved by a holy man,” “So they got you, too? No, I bought all of this shit after the riots,” “Can I ask you a question? Did you actually live in this shitbox?,” “You look like you just came from a riot,” “You’re a fucking psycho,” “Jack! Jack! Jack! Now I need that hand! I need that hand!,” “Well, aren’t you the grown up spy?,” “Guess your ass just got sold down the river, shithead,” “Positively Shakespearean!,” “Shit! Showdown on Sesame Street!,” “Elevator was broken,” “Has anyone ever told you you’re a real pain in the ass?,” “Is that the best you got, boy?,” and “You don’t look like you’re going to be waking up happy now.”

Rating: 7.0/10.0

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Things to Watch Out For This Week

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Atomic Blonde: Man, this movie sucked. The action and fight scenes are pretty good in it, and it had tons of potential to be awesome, but the reality is the movie isn’t an attempt to make a “female James Bond.” Instead, it’s basically a vanity project for star Charlize Theron. I still have no idea what the movie is actually about, outside of Theron’s character looking sullen, walking around, smoking cigarettes, and then doing all of that shit again set to an annoying 1980’s soundtrack. It would have made more sense to have one or two “1980’s” songs and then a real deal film score that “sounds” like the 1980’s, but then that might have forced Theron to cut out one of her sullen scenes (she is listed as one of the movie’s producers). This thing is rentable just to see the action and fight sequences, but skip the rest. You won’t understand any of it anyway.

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Unlocked: This action thriller has a top notch cast (Noomi Rapace, Orlando Bloom, Toni Collette, John Malkovich, Michael Douglas) and a big time director (Michael Apted, who did the Bond movie The World is Not Enough) but for whatever reason it isn’t getting a major release. I don’t remember seeing a review for it in The New York Times, so I have no idea if it got a theatrical release of some kind in the big cities. It looks decent, sort of topical. So what the heck happened here? Why didn’t Lionsgate get this out to more people? Definitely worth a rental, just to see if it’s actually as decent as it looks.

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Amityville: The Awakening: You’d think that the whole “Amityville” thing would have ended by now, since the whole thing was bullshit from the very beginning, but the “haunted house on Long Island” thing still excites people for some reason. This lowish budget horror flick based on that bullshit story seems like it has been kicking around for years now, moving release dates and whatnot (has Dimension Films ever released a movie on schedule in its life?) Jennifer Jason Leigh is in it, as are Jennifer Morrison and Kurtwood Smith, so at least it has a capable cast. Rentable at the moment. That may change after seeing it.

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2307: Winter’s Dream: This looks insanely cool. I mean, how often do we see post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies set in the snow and endless winter? I can’t remember the last one. I’m hoping that it actually is an action movie and not some lame ass “thinking” movie, because the world doesn’t need that. The world does need laser fights in the snow, though. Anyone out there see this? Is it awesome?

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B-Movie News

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The Universal “Dark Universe” is already over?: Well, yes and no. The guys who were charged with creating/maintaining the Dark Universe monsters mega franchise, Alex Kurtzman and Chris Morgan, have both left the franchise, and the next movie set to happen, a Bride of Frankenstein reboot by director Bill Condon, has been delayed, possibly indefinitely. So it may be safe to say that whatever Kurtzman and Morgan had planned after the Tom Cruise vehicle The Mummy will not be happening, at least with them in charge. But is the mega franchise idea dead? Could Universal still do something with it?

Maybe. Universal is in no danger of losing any of its iconic monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster, the Wolfman, the Invisible Man, etc., so it’s not like the company has to do something soon before the rights revert back to some other entity. There have been rumblings that Universal could tap Blumhouse to revive/redo the mega franchise in some way, a strategy that might make sense since Blumhouse clearly knows how to make and market a horror movie and a horror movie franchise (that would be The Purge, in case you didn’t know). Blumhouse could do the overlapping movies thing on a lower budget than the Cruise The Mummy (Blumhouse could probably make ten good movies out of what Universal spent on the Cruise movie) or it could use the “Dark Universe” label as a kind of branding for the Universal monster movies it plans to make. Like the “After Dark” branding thing that happened a few years ago.

Despite the apparent failure of whatever it is Universal had originally planned for the “Dark Universe,” I think Universal has several viable ways to go with its monsters. I do think the whole overlapping movie franchise thing could work. I’m not sure if the Prodigium thing with Russell Crowe should continue or be reworked into whatever happens next, but I do think it makes sense to have a big monster fight at some point in the future. I also think that Universal shouldn’t try to make the “Dark Universe” an action movie franchise. If Universal wants to put one of its monsters in a horror movie that has lots of action in it, I’m okay with that. But the franchise as a whole should focus on being a horror thing or a predominantly horror thing. The world doesn’t need to see Frankenstein’s monster with a jet pack and shoulder fired missiles fighting aliens or some shit. Well, it does need to see that in some form, just not in the “Dark Universe.”

Of course, it might not be a bad idea for Universal to just make a good movie with one of its monster properties, see how people respond to it, and then make another one after that if people want to see something else. It doesn’t make much sense, at this point in time, to announce a franchise no one has said they want to see. Isn’t that what Marvel sort of did with Iron Man? Yes, other movies were planned out, deals were made, etc., but if Iron Man tanked Marvel wouldn’t have been able to press on with anything because there would be no audience for its idea. I mean, if the Marvel Cinematic Universe is what Universal wants to copy for its monsters, why not do exactly what Marvel did? Make a movie people want to see and then go from there?

DeadTriggerDolphLundgren

Dead Trigger trailer revealed!: Dead Trigger, based on the incredibly popular first person shooter video game of the same name, just released its first trailer and, man, it looks awesome. Very low budget and kind of cheesy in some respects, sure, but still awesome anyway. The great Dolph Lundgren stars in it, alongside Isaiah Washington, and it deals with people killing zombies in some post-apocalyptic future. Lundgren got to kill zombies in Battle of the Damned, so it will be cool to see him kill more of them in this. Washington has never killed zombies before, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does with that.

We don’t have a release date as of yet for this movie, but with a trailer out it’s only a matter of time before we find out when we’ll get a chance to see this. I can’t wait to see it. Who is with me on that? Anyone?

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Who is the Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!

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Next Issue: Dr. Strange!

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

The Glimmer Man

Steven Seagal– Lt. Jack Cole
Keenan Ivory Wayans– Detective Jim Campbell
Bob Gunton– Frank Deverell
Brian Cox– Mr. Smith
John M. Jackson– Donald Cunningham
Michelle Johnson– Jessica Cole
Stephen Tobolowsky– Christopher Maynard
Richard Grant– Detective Roden
Johnny Strong– Johnny Deverell
Peter Jason– Millie’s Father

Directed by John Gray
Screenplay by Kevin Brodbin

Distributed by Warner Bros.

Rated R for strong violence, language, and some nudity
Runtime– 91 minutes

Buy it here or here