Review by James Lindorf
Were you enthralled when Murtaugh was trapped on a toilet strapped with a bomb in “Lethal Weapon 2”? Were you titillated watching Hugh Jackman have to hack a bank with a gun to his head while getting a blowjob? Then “Hot Seat,” the latest film from Lionsgate and director James Cullen Bressack (Fortress), is the movie for you. “Hot Seat” is currently playing at theaters in select markets and is available On Demand for everyone else.
While Friar (Dillon) appears to be a mild-mannered IT expert for an unnamed cable company, he has a troubled past as a hacker in a criminal venture. He turned on his bosses to avoid jail time and stay with his wife and daughter, even if it meant working in endless boredom. What starts as a typical day quickly spins out of control when an unseen hacker orders him to steal digital funds online or have his daughter abducted. To make matters worse, if Friair tries to get out of his chair or move it too far from his computer, a bomb hidden under the chair will go off. To clear his name and protect his family, Friar will need the help of level-headed police captain Connelly (Shannen Doherty) and fearless bomb expert Wallace (Mel Gibson).
If this movie had come out in 2004 or ’05, its cast would have had fans packing theaters. Its star Kevin Dillion had just started on “Entourage” the acclaimed HBO series that reminded people he was more than Matt’s brother. Shannen Doherty was fresh off from charming audiences on The WB. As popular as those two have and would be, they would still be dwarfed by their co-star Hollywood legend and Oscar winner Mel Gibson. Of course, in 2006, Gibson would have his first public incident that his career has never recovered from and will make “Hot Seat” unwatchable in the minds of many. Kevin and Shannen are still looking to recapture past fame while working continuously on mostly direct-to DVD or streaming projects. However, being a jerk or having a lull in your career doesn’t erase talent and all three actors do good work in “Hot Seat.”
“Hot Seat” was a much better viewing experience than I expected coming into it. I was worried about how they would make a man stuck in a chair exciting for 99 minutes. The setup was a 5-minute scene at most in the two movies I mentioned in the intro, and a bomb on a chair is not a bomb on a bus. Low expectations can do a lot of favors for a movie, and there may be some of that going on here. Still, I think the performances are good enough to provide genuine entertainment.
The biggest flaw with “Hot Seat” is that it runs a little long. Bressack should have cut an additional 10 minutes out of the film to improve its pacing. Because when things start to slow down, it gives the audience time to dig into the story, and there isn’t enough depth to satisfy them for long. Without the adrenaline, there isn’t enough to keep you from picking up your phone unless you are completely buying into the performances. “Hot Seat” may have exceeded my expectations. Still, the pacing issues and lack of story depth and originality resulted in a score of 3 out of 5.
Lionsgate will release the action/thriller film HOT SEAT in Select Theaters, On Demand and Digital on July 1, 2022.
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