Hot Seat, is the new thriller from director James Cullen Bressack (Survive the Game, Captors), working from a script by Collin Watts and Leon Langford. And, at least on the surface, it seems to have taken its cue from his other recent thriller, Fortress, one of whose plot threads involved a former hacker forced to break into a financial company’s systems.
Here, that goes from subplot to the main storyline as reformed hacker Orlando Friar’s (Kevin Dillon, The Blob, A Day to Die) day goes from bad to worse. After he’s called in on his day off, which also happens to be his daughter Zoey’s (Anna Harr, Meteor Moon, Battlefield 2025) birthday his wife Kim (Lydia Hull, Arsenal, Escape Plan: The Extractors) serves him with divorce papers. But the worst is yet to come.
Almost as soon as he gets to work his computer is taken over by someone who knows his history and his skills. They even know Kim filed for divorce. They tell him, via the intercom system, that there’s a bomb wired to his chair and a pressure sensing device under the mat. If he doesn’t follow instructions or tries to get away it’ll detonate.
Now, I’m pretty sure you’re thinking they wouldn’t set an entire film in one small office with a guy at a keyboard, would they? Well, Hot seat isn’t entirely set in there, but a good 90% of it is. Much of it is spent watching Orlando typing and various bars on his monitors telling us how close he is to finishing the task at hand. It’s not exactly the most compelling of visuals.
Elsewhere bomb disposal experts Wallace (Mel Gibson, Mad Max, Boss Level) and Jackson (Eddie Steeples, Jiu Jitsu, OJ: The Musical) are investigating a car bomb when Chief Connelly (Shannen Doherty, Charmed, Bethany) calls them into the scene of another blast. It seems somebody tried to use a booby-trapped elevator in Orlando’s building.
Hot Seat tries to invoke memories of Lethal Weapon 2 not only by having Gibson have to deal with a bomb under a seat but by giving him an African-American partner to banter with. Unfortunately, the writing here is nowhere near as good as in that film, and Gibson and Steeples don’t have the chemistry Gibson and Danny Glover had. The result is frequently painful to listen to.
Equally painful is their interaction with Sergeant Tobias (Sam Asghari, Can You Keep a Secret?, Unbelievable!!!!!) who’s in charge of the SWAT team. It’s amusing to note that the film’s press release made a bigger deal about his presence, due to his recent marriage to Britney Spears, than it did about Gibson’s. He’s actually fairly bland although the script doesn’t give him much to work with. And his tactical gear hides the body that got him on the cover of Ironman Magazine a few years back.
As a thriller, I’ve certainly seen a lot worse. Hot Seat is predictable and talky but Bressack has done enough of these kinds of films to know what needs to be done. And the last half-hour does work up some tension as all the plot threads come together with a couple of twists. One of which i should have seen coming, but they managed to make it work. Unfortunately they couldn’t find a way not to make the villain’s identity so obvious you’ll guess it very early on.
Overall, if you’re a regular viewer of these DTV films you know what to expect and Hot Seat should give you just that. If you’re not, don’t go in with high expectations and you’ll be entertained for ninety minutes or so. It’s the equivalent of the old network movie of the week, something that’ll keep you watching, but will be forgotten by the end of the month.
Lionsgate has released Hot Seat today on VOD and Digital platforms. It comes to Blu-ray and DVD on August 9th. You can check their website for more details. And if you’re looking for more films like it, FilmTagger has some suggestions.