A superior Seagal film, a smooth blend of action, character and noble environmental message. Credit is owed to the screenplay by Jeb Stuart and Philip Morton, which provides strong supporting roles; the photography, directed by Tom Houghton, which brings out the beauty of the landscape violated by the villains, and the lively country music, which is attributed to Nick Glennie-Smith. [6 Sept 1997, p.18]
There aren't many surprises in Fire Down Below, except for the presence of a few very good actors (Harry Dean Stanton, Kris Kristofferson, Levon Helm) and a slew of country stars in cameo appearances (including Loretta Lynn's twin daughters and singer Randy Travis, who looks to have a future as a movie heavy). [8 Sept 1997, p.C2]
Typical action fare for martial arts star Steven Seagal and, in his limited oeuvre, one of the more entertaining efforts. But the genre is pedestrian, and Seagal makes no new moves here in terms of screen personality or acting skill. What fun there is lies in the villains, some nifty stunts and a bouncy musical score rife with regional sounds.
The supporting cast is stocked with far better actors than Seagal -- Kristofferson, Harry Dean Stanton and Stephen Lang among them -- and country music personalities ranging from Mark Collie, Levon Helm, Randy Travis and Travis Tritt to Loretta Lynn's twin daughters Patsy and Peggy, to whom Seagal's character makes some vaguely suggestive remarks.
These thugs, needless to say, are pulverized as effortlessly as so many Easter chicks. This is a problem I've always had with Seagal's martial arts sequences; there's seldom a nanosecond of suspense, and the fight choreography has all the sophistication of Seventies drive-in fare such as Billy Jack and Walking Tall.
As an example of smash-mouth environmentalism, you'd be hard-pressed to surpass Fire Down Below. As an example of right-thinking American compassion and concern for our precious natural heritage and all the fuzzy fauna and fernyflora of the great outdoors, it's extremely forthright. And as a movie, it's a piece of drivel...Ugh! What a distasteful, silly, egomaniacal movie. [6 Sept 1997, p.D03]