By: John M Jerva
STARRING: Scott Adkins, Matthew Garbacz, James Bennett, Karlee Perez, Steven Elder and Mario Van Peebles
DIRECTED BY: Isaac Florentine
Hiding out with his son Taylor on the Mexican coast, Nero (Scott Adkins, Doctor Strange) hopes to put his violent Special Forces career behind him. But after Nero’s home is attacked and Taylor is abducted, the mysterious Mzamo (Mario Van Peebles, Heartbreak Ridge) orders Nero to slaughter the members of three rival crime syndicates. If he fails, Taylor will die. With bullets ﬂying and bodies dropping, Nero must now complete his mission ― and ﬁnd Mzamoʼs hideout, to exact his revenge.
THE REVIEW: All Scott Adkins fans know that filmmaker Isaac Florentine was the man responsible for putting the action star on the map back in 2003 when the British ass kicker co-starred in Florentine’s military actioner Special Forces. Adkins had done some previous stuff prior but it was this film that made Adkins known to serious action fanatics out there. His show stopping fight sequence at the end was a dazzling display of martial arts prowess that made one’s jaw drop and it continued with 2006’s Undisputed 2: Last Man Standing where Adkins’ most iconic character Yuri Boyka was born. Florentine would go on to have a fruitful relationship with the actor making such high-octane flicks which included Undisputed 3: Redemption which includes one of the best western fight scenes ever where Adkins took on Marko Zaror in a slugfest that has since become the stuff of legend. Lets not forget to mention Ninja and Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear and their last collaboration in 2015’s low-fi, stripped down action marathon Close Range. Each of these films had that special something and it is important to remember that before Adkins would team up for his recent successes with Jesse V. Johnson, it was Florentine who made Adkins the fan favorite he is today.
With that we have the new release Seized where Adkins stars as Nero, a former special forces operative who must break out his old skills when his son is kidnapped by a ruthless cartel led by genre favorite Mario Van Peebles. Nero’s past has caught up with him and his peaceful new life is shattered when Mzamo (Peebles) forces him to take out three rival syndicates or his son will meet an untimely death. Nero must now race around the clock and complete his missions in order to save his son and put an end to Mzamo’s sinister plans.
Adkins has that special quality like other actors in the industry where just his presence elevates even the most mediocre film, like Incoming for example, and his physical feats usually make a film worth watching. It is important to note that Seized doesn’t live up to some of Adkins and Florentine’s earlier efforts but with both men involved, this indie action-thriller is a more enjoyable action watch that in the hands of anyone else would have not seen the same results. The film is on the lower budget spectrum like Close Range with Adkins and Peebles being the most famous actors in the film but that works to a degree in that these two men are all that you need. Adkins steals the show with his usual guy next door charm and action bravado while Peebles simply just steals the show with his portrayal of the ruthless Mzamo who chews up the scenery with righteous results.
The first 15 minutes or so of the film is a slow burn as we get to know Adkins’ Nero and his son Taylor (Matthew Garbacz) and we learn that they don’t have the best of relationships ever since Nero’s wife passed away. Taylor doesn’t like his life and he gets into countless trouble at school while Nero tries to balance his now quiet life as a securtity consultant and father. Taylor is somewhat of an annoying character but I feel that this was planned. This plot point does sound similar to Adkins’ last action effort Legacy Of Lies and while we substitute a daughter for a son here, it pretty much is the same although once the action starts, it never really lets up as Nero sets out on his three missions for Mzamo. Florentine knows Adkins and how to utelize him and once again Adkins is the action star equivalent to the Energizer Bunny as he is virtual non-stop until the credits roll. Adkins has evolved tremendoulsy as an actor and here, while the material on hand isn’t the greatest, he once agaain elevates the film becuase he’s got that star power that brings out the best in standard action fare. This is why he’s one of the best action stars out there and definitely deserves to headline bigger budgeted pictures. Yeah, I had to add that in once again as it is a crime that he isn’t given the opportunity to carry blockbuster franchises as he is the complete package.
Peebles, now in his 60’s, still looks great and fans should remember that he too was an action star in the 90’s. From Solo to Gunmen to one of my favorites in Full Eclipse, Peebles has charisma and gravitas to spare and has made quite the career for himself in front of and behind the camera. Here, Peebles knows what kind of part he is playing and he lives it up to the extreme and brings an unusual amount of charm to Mzamo that almost wants to make the audience like him. If you didn’t know that he was a vicious cartel leader, you’d probably want to have dinner with the men. Peebles always brings it with his performances and here, it’s no exception.
Now it’s the action of course that is the draw and here Florentine balances it all out with both fisticuffs and firepower as Adkins gets to display his skills with both weapons and his ultimate weapon which is his body. There are several fights and although they don’t last too long, he still gets to demonstate the skills that made him a star and with Florentine at the helm and veteran action filmmaker and actor Art Camacho serving up the fight choreography this time around, the altercations possess that flare that is expected from an Adkins/Florentine film. Unfortunately, just like Michael Jai White in the recently released pic Welcome to Sudden Death, Adkins really doesn’t get to face off with anyone that gives him any real trouble until the end where he gets to take on UFC bad ass Uriah Hall and their showdown is quite exciting and it saves the film. Normally Tim Man has been the go to man for fight action in a Scott Adkins’ vehicle and here Camacho does a nice job filling in. Whether the fight is two minutes ot ten minutes, Scott Adkins makes you want to watch it over and over again because he has mad skills and is truly one of the best fighters on screen and he always serves up a master class in how to make action look on camera.
One missed opportunity is the fact that there is never an inevitable physical showdown between Nero and Mzamo and I, just like all of you out there, would have loved to see these two square off. There is a twist at the end that turns the film towards a different direction and while I won’t spoil anything further, I still would have enjoyed seeing Adkins and Peebles throwdown for a few minutes.
All in all, Seized never reaches Undisputed heights but it is still awesome to see Adkins and Florentine working together again as their relationship delivers the right amount of adrenaline at anytime and with a running time of 85 minutes, the film certainly moves and delivers a brisk and fist pumping good time none the less. The action is well shot and clean throughout and that is a plus as Adkins is always his own special effect and any quick edits or shaky cam would be a sin when you have talent like this involved. Florentine knows how to stage the physical aspect of the movie and we the audience are better for it. Here’s hoping that one day Adkins will indeed get his shot to headline a bigger film because with what the man can do with the limited time and resources he has now to shoot action, could you just imagine what he could do with more time and money? I for one fantasize about it. It would be the stuff of legends because Adkins is a legend and make no mistake, he is the best of the best.