Casey Ryback is a fictional character and action hero from the Under Siege films of the 1990s. Played by Hollywood action star Steven Seagal,[1] Ryback is a Chief Petty Officer and former Navy SEAL commando turned chef[2] with top training in special-weapons and counter-terrorism. He is a master of personal combat, an accomplished bomb maker, highly skilled with guns, knives and other forms of combat which enables him to defeat mercenaries with ease. He appears in the 1992 film Under Siege and its sequel, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, in 1995.[3]


Ryback was relegated to his posting as a chef for striking an officer who had gotten his men killed in a failed commando mission during the invasion of Panama. He had lost his security clearance and was said to only be able to serve as a administrative yeoman or a cook. At the end of the first film his former position was given back to him in a ceremony following his bravery, but at the beginning of the sequel it appears that he had retired from the Navy as a Lieutenant, as shown by the salute and verbal greeting from his driver in the beginning of the film, and was working as a chef at the Mile High Cafe in Denver, Colorado.

Missouri post refit

USS Missouri (BB-63)

In the first film it is unknown to the mercenaries of the USS Missouri (BB-63) who Ryback is, believing he was just a mere cook which added an element of surprise to the onslaught which followed. However in the sequel, Under Siege 2 where Ryback boards a train with his niece to visit a recently deceased brother in Los Angeles from Denver the mercenaries that hijack the train have full knowledge of the man they are dealing with once they hear his name. He is considered to be the most skilled counter-terrorist in the world and even the fearless mercenary leader Marcus Penn (Everett McGill) claims that Ryback is the only man he has ever been afraid of. One reason for this could be that the events of the first film made Ryback an international hero. In the second film, one of the chefs at the restaurant claims that people come to hear Ryback's stories.

Ryback uses an Apple Newton MessagePad prominently in key scenes during the second movie, especially its ability to fax documents. He also uses the knife as his weapon of choice in both movies to battle the villain, Strannix, and Penn. His cooking also appears in both movies as a subtext to his being a SEAL

Influence and receptionEdit

Casey Ryback became one of well known names of action heroes in the action film genre in the 1990s compared to the likes of John McClane from the Die Hard films. As David West writes, Under Siege is "cut from the same cloth as the 'Die Hard' series and stars Seagal as Casey Ryback..."[4] Often the character of Ryback has been criticised in the media due the the fact that he is invincible and would defeat his opponents rather too easily, removing the element of surprise in his personal combat. As Eric Lichtenfeld writes, " the ultimate warrior. As the action genre tends toward hyperbole, Rybeck is an amalgam of everything that signifies Ultimate Warrior status, even more than Riggs had been in Lethal Weapon. It is fitting then, that...Ryback's costuming progresses from a white cook's an olive tank top, to the all-black garb that merges Ryback with the ship, and with which Segal came to be identified.[5]


  1. Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever, and Sue Viders, The Complete Writer's Guide to Heroes & Heroines: Sixteen Master Archetypes (Lone Eage Pub., 2000), 45.
  2. M. Ray Lott, The American Martial Arts Film (McFarland, 2004), 98.
  3. Sylvia P. Flanagan, "Movies to See: Under Siege 2: Dark Territory," Jet (Jul 31, 1995): 56.
  4. David West, Chasing Dragons: An Introduction to the Martial Arts Film (I.B.Tauris, 2006), 223.
  5. Eric Lichtenfeld, Action Speaks Louder: Violence, Spectacle, and the American Action Movie (Wesleyan University Press, 2007), 169.

External linksEdit

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