Near the town of Ennis, Montana, local doctor and former government research immunologist Wesley McClaren (Steven Seagal) who has an interest in herbal medicine and is also a weapons and self-defense expert, is called to a hospital when people start dying from an unknown but very deadly disease. He determines that the cause is a highly dangerous airborne virus and calls in a Biological Response team, who seal off the town while doctors start treating sufferers with a vaccine. Several have already died.
The source of the virus is traced to a local self-styled rebel militia leader, Floyd Chisholm (Gailard Sartain), who has given himself up after a long siege and has been arrested on weapons charges. In court, having ingested the virus himself (believing that he also possesses the vaccine) he spits at the judge, and starts the rapid spread of the disease.
Floyd's militia followers, who have been allowed to go free, attack the prison and rescue Floyd. They then proceed to invade and besiege the hospital, with much loss of life, and take medical personnel hostage including Wesley and his daughter Holly (Camilla Belle). But too late, they realize that the vaccine they were seeking at the hospital is the same as the one they possess which only delays the effect of the deadly virus. Working at gunpoint, Wesley takes a sample of Holly's blood; it shows that Holly has been infected, but somehow her body is fighting it off. Wesley and Holly contrive to escape and travel to a farm where Holly's grandfather lives. Wesley takes a blood sample from his friend Dr. Ann White Cloud (Whitney Yellow Robe), and realizes that her body is also fighting off the infection.
Wesley and Ann gain access to a secret underground laboratory where Wesley used to work, where they hope to come up with a cure. Wesley finds out why Ann and Holly are not being affected by the virus: they have been drinking tea made with a specific wild herb that is known to Native American healers.
Back at the hospital, Wesley and Holly are captured by the militia, but he manages to kill Floyd and disable the other soldiers. As soon as the biological protection team learn of the cure, they go out and pick all the flowers they can find and drop them by helicopter over the town, telling the people to boil them and drink the liquid.Steven Seagal ... Dr. Wesley McClaren
Gailard Sartain ... Floyd Chisholm
L.Q. Jones ... Frank
Silas Weir Mitchell ... Pogue
Camilla Belle ... Holly McClaren
Dan Beene ... Richard Bach
Damon Collazo ... Lt. Johnson
Whitney Yellow Robe ... Dr. Ann White Cloud
Brad Leland ... Big Bob
Molly McClure ... Molly
Philip Winchester ... Young Militiaman
Douglas Sebern ... Judge Tomkins
Ross Loney ... Clem
Bernard O'Connor ... Dr. Tom Hergot
Leonard Mountain Chief ... Grandpa
R.J. Burns ... Navy Captain
Robert Harvey ... Col. Harvey
Ron Andrews ... Radioman
Jeff Tillotson ... Pvt. Benson
Don Peterson ... T.S. Soldier #1
Cory Brown ... T.S. Soldier #2
Tom Vanek ... Roadblock Sentry
Scott Wetsel ... FBI Agent
Dillinger Steele ... Marshal
Gene E. Carlstrom ... Old Rancher
Ayako Fujitani ... McClaren's Assistant (as Ayako Seagal)
Kelcie Beene ... Holly's Friend #1
Callie Strozzi ... Holly's Friend #2
Stephen Jensen ... ATF Agent #3
The film, directed by academy-award-winning cinematographer Dean Semler, was reportedly originally intended as a theatrical release, but was ultimately released direct-to-video, the first Seagal film to skip theaters entirely. It was shot over eight weeks in Ennis and Virginia City, Montana, and for three days on the campus of Montana State University. Filming was briefly halted to remove snow from the ground during shooting in Virginia City, to maintain continuity.
The screenplay is credited to M. Sussman and John Kingswell, assumed to be pseudonyms due to the complete lack of information on either writer (neither has any other film credit of any kind). Several writers, including David Ayer and Paul Mones were rumored to be working on the script prior to its release; Mones was ultimately credited as a producer. Though the movie is credited as an adaptation of William C. Heine's novel The Last Canadian, it shares virtually no similarities with the novel except the idea of a deadly virus. No character names, events, or even locations appear in both the book and the film.
The film is Seagal's only effort to date in which he co-stars with his daughter, actress Ayako Fujitani, and is notable for an extremely low amount of action scenes compared to Seagal's other work.
The film has received generally negative reviews, with critics frequently singling out the extremely low number of action sequences. David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews called it "dull" and criticized its lack of action (he claims, "Out of a 90 minute movie, there's maybe 10 minutes of actual Seagal hand-to-hand combat") and unwelcome political messages. Seagalogy author Vern argues that "in many ways The Patriot is an admirable effort," noting "The production values and acting are better than some of Seagal's subsequent movies," but going on to point out that due to its "ridiculously low action quotient it is a least-favorite of many Seagal fans." As of 2 October 2014, the film has a 22% "rotten" critics rating on Rotten Tomatoes (based on 9 reviews).