Combustible Celluloid
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With: Kevin Dillon, Mel Gibson, Shannen Doherty, Sam Asghari, Michael Welch, Lydia Hull, Eddie Steeples, Kate Katzman, Keith Jardine, Anna Harr
Written by: Leon Langford, Collin Watts
Directed by: James Cullen Bressack
MPAA Rating: R for language throughout and some violence
Running Time: 99
Date: 07/01/2022

Hot Seat (2022)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Yawn Chair

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

A not-bad idea for a low-budget, mostly-one-set suspense story turns into a rushed, generic movie, one that cuts corners and misses potential at every turn, eventually disappearing from memory.

Ex-hacker Orlando (Kevin Dillon) works a straight job at a call center for an internet company. He gets called into work on his daughter's birthday, and his wife hands him divorce papers. After a couple of routine calls, Orlando plops into his chair. A voice rings out over the intercom, telling him he needs to use his old hacker skills to steal $1 million, or the hair-trigger bomb strapped to the underside of his chair will blow.

As the day wears on, it becomes clear that Orlando has been specifically targeted for this. His family's life is at stake, unless he agrees to be framed for multiple bombings throughout the city. Worse, co-worker Ava (Kate Katzman) has stumbled onto the scene and been taken hostage. Bomb squad guys Jackson (Eddie Steeples) and Reed (Mel Gibson) are on the job, but can they figure out what's happening before it's too late?

A variation on movies like Speed or Die Hard with a Vengeance, Hot Seat already has a lack of kinetic movement, given that it's about not moving. Director James Cullen Bressack finds a kind of middling pace, coupled with shaky-cam and twitchy editing, that isn't slow enough to generate suspense or quick enough to pump adrenaline; it just sort of elicits a numbness.

It doesn't help that Dillon isn't the most dynamic actor. He has an abrasive, streetwise jester quality — used to good effect in the series Entourage — that wears thin when he's in the spotlight. The other actors don't quite seem right either. The villainous voice in the speaker has no subtlety, no control. He just curses and barks and says cliched things like "tick tock! Tick tock!"

The hostage, Ava, is more of a supermodel than an actor, and can't even seem to imply that she's scared. Gibson, of course, with his "old guy" wisecracking persona is the only one that manages to look like he's having fun. The downside there is that his partner, a Black man, is one of the first to die, an insufferable cliché. All in all, this Hot Seat is sure to leave viewers cold.

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