The Siege (2023) Review
Walker (Daniel Stisen, Last Man Down, Rise of the Footsoldier 3) is an assassin, one of the best in the business. But this time one of the witnesses wasn’t as dead as they seemed to be. With his cover potentially blown, he needs a trip to “Reassignment Center 42” to be fitted out with a new identity, a process that he seems to be quite familiar with.
This time however there’s barely time for him to have his fingerprints burned off before the facility comes under attack by a team of heavily armed mercenaries under the command of Keates (Samantha Schnitzler, Intergalactic, Black Ops). Their target is Juliet (Yennis Cheung, Babes with Blades, Muse) and her protector Elda (Lauren Okadigbo, Black Widow, Dune).
Director Brad Watson’s credits run more towards horror films such as Beacon 77 and For We Are Many than action, and The Siege is Nicole Bartlett’s first produced script but she has several credits as an actress including The Bezonians and 400 Bullets which was directed by Tom Paton who knows a thing or two about action scenes and supplied this film’s original story.
Not that the story is particularly complex. As you might expect Walker initially takes a “not my fight” approach to the situation before realizing the attackers have orders to leave no witnesses and reluctantly teams up with Elda and Juliet to avoid becoming collateral damage. This leads to the quantity and quality of ass-kicking we want but rarely get from these kinds of films.
And with a considerable portion of the cast composed of stunt performers The Siege delivers plenty of solid action scenes as the characters shoot, stab, and beat the hell out of each other across the course of a long, bloody night. It’s no exaggeration to say there’s more action in the first act alone than in all of such “action films” as Blowback or Savage Salvation.
The tradeoff is that some of the acting is a bit rough and there aren’t any big names to help sell the film. A five minute cameo by somebody on the wrong side of their career doesn’t really matter to me but I know it matters to enough people that having a well-known actor play the man behind it all rather than Byron Gibson (English Dogs in Bangkok, No Escape) would make a difference to its sales.
And that’s too bad. Because the genre needs characters like the giant hitman with a penchant for collecting teeth from his victims and the brawls between Stisen and the massive Phillip Ray Tommy (A Violent Man, Toxica) and between Okadigbo and Schnitzler more than it needs another appearance by John Malkovich or Jeff Fahey.
That’s not to say The Siege is without its problems. The characters have almost no backstory, and what we do find out about Walker is beyond a cliche at this point. While he looks like he stepped out of an 80s DTV action film Stisen could probably do with a few more acting classes. He’s not bad but he’s still at the stage where he’s better off avoiding long speeches and letting his fists do the talking.
However, for those who would add the unlikely existence of a place like Reassignment Center 42 to the list, I’ll just remind you people seem willing to accept The Continental Hotel from the John Wick franchise. And The Siege has the potential to become a franchise in its own right, and as long as the sequels delivered as much action I’d be all for it.
Saban Films released The Siege to theatres on March 10th, it’s currently available on VOD and Digital Platforms.