By this stage of one’s career watching DTV potboilers starring actors past their prime, one pretty much knows what they’re going to get when you see a new release from Lionsgate and Grindstone Entertainment. You are going to see modestly budgeted thrillers with so so CGI, action sequences that serve their purpose and said actors giving it their all because they know that even though they aren’t headlining major Hollywood productions anymore, they’re still working enough to remain relevant to the public.
Having said that, I give you the latest Lionsgate STV thriller Hot Seat which stars Kevin Dillon of Platoon fame and the one and only Mel Gibson. Dillon has been keeping busy as of late starring in a slew of films including the recent A Day to Die which saw him going toe to toe with Bruce Willis and Frank Grillo. Dillon has that everyman kind of reverence and he’s just gruff enough to pull off a macho role like he did in the aforementioned film or play a more normal husband and father like he does here. Dillon will never be one actor that I will always have to watch but he does admirable with the material at hand.
Gibson is still aces in my book. Even with his public issues a while back, I feel that Mel is one of those actors that can simply elevate any film he’s in. It doesn’t matter if it’s more of an extended cameo or a bigger role, Gibson simply could just walk on screen, cough and leave and I will have felt satisfied with his performance. It does bare note that it looks like Gibson is filling in for Bruce Willis in these DTV action pics seeing that Bruno is retired now. Just like Willis, I feel that every time I receive a PR email for a new film, it stars Mad Max and he’s there front and center on the key art.
Hot Seat is the movie we are talking about today that teams Gibson with Dillon and yes, it’s a Grindstone Entertainment, Lionsgate film so knowing that going in, you should set your expectations meter to low. In the film, Dillon plays an IT worker named Orlando Friar who is having trouble juggling work with life at home and he’s fumbled the ball so much of late that his wife Kim (Lydia Hull) is throwing down the gauntlet and has served him with divorce papers because he is about to miss his daughter’s birthday party.
Distraught, Friar still goes to work and upon arriving, he receives a magic 8-Ball along with his co-worker Enzo (Michael Welch) and unfortunately for Friar he takes a seat at his desk only to find out that he’s triggered an explosive devise strapped to it. The culprit is a mystery man who can see into Friar’s work floor, and he proceeds to communicate with Friar and forces him to relive his past days as a hacker by breaking into a bank’s computer and steal millions of daughters. It would seem that Friar’s past sins have caught up to him and to make it even worse yet, a co-worker named Ava (Kate Katzman) gets in the middle after arriving on Friar’s floor simply looking for someone. Talk about wrong place, wrong time.
Enter Reed (Mel Gibson) and his new partner Jackson (Eddie Steeples) who are demolitions experts and they get the call to come to Friar’s office after just dealing with another bombing earlier caused by the movie’s heavy. We also get their police chief Connelly (Shannen Doherty) along for the ride as Friar is framed by the mysterious bomber. Now it’s up to Reed to make sense of everything that is going on and the fuse is lit which will culminate in a race against time as Friar’s family will also be caught in the crosshairs.
Hot Seat is exactly what I expected and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. From director James Cullen Bressack (Fortress, Surviving the Game) who is one of Lionsgate’s go to filmmakers, this is a DTV thriller that clocks in at 98 minutes and pretty much gets the ball rolling early. I’m sure you will read reviews out there by bloggers with angst that will shred it to pieces but once again, if you’re watching this then you enjoy these movies on some level. Is it the worse movie ever? Hell no, but you will roll your eyes at the suspect CGI which includes a horrendous looking explosion at the beginning coupled with weak character arcs and an ending that pretty much does everything but put a nice old ribbon on it.
Gibson, I am happy to say, is given a fair amount to do here and even though Dillon is the savior of the day, Braveheart still gets his chances to play around with his lines and get a little physical. Unlike Dangerous where he was only in the movies for minutes, Gibson gets to run around and give us a little, now just a little mind you, of that old Riggs charm.
The action isn’t anything mind blowing as this is more of a thriller after all but there are a few sequences of violence and both Gibson and Dillon get their hands dirty on more than one occasion. The excitement tis more of the running around variety but there is a little bit of ammunition spent before the credits roll.
I couldn’t help but think of a much better Mel Gibson movie while watching this as just like in Lethal Weapon 2, someone is sitting on a seat wired to explode. Yes, it was Murtaugh on a toilet in that classic, but I still connected the dots as Gibson is the actor having to deal with this type of situation again. I was hoping for a shot of the chair exploding out of a window and demolishing a cop car here just like said toilet did in the Waner Bros. sequel but alas I guess the budget didn’t call for it. That would have made for a great wink and nudge being that Gibson is involved here but the nostalgia wasn’t missed on me.
The final reveal of who is exactly doing all this is lackluster to say the least, but it serves its purpose as to the motivations involved that propel them to put innocent people in harm’s way. This isn’t Gone with the Wind here so go in not expecting a script that will knock your socks off. Simply enjoy the DTV ride that it takes you on.
Overall, Hot Seat is harmless, and it is worthy of a viewing especially if you want to see Gibson do his thing one more time. The secondary characters are weak in a sense that there is no real back story to most of them but that’s OK because it’s all about the excitement level and here Hot Seat earns a merit badge for that good old college try. It sizzles just enough before it prematurely cools off and Dillon and Gibson do have some nice chemistry together in their scenes. The action is more of the thrill and running variety, but we get some violence peppered throughout to satisfy action fans looking for something to chomp off of. If you’re looking for something to watch until Top Gun Maverick hits home video, then visit your local Redbox and pop this one in your player at home.