Hot Seat (2022)

99 min. Director: James Cullen Bressack. Cast: Kevin Dillon and Mel Gibson.


The uncancellable Mel Gibson lends his name—and his increasingly grizzled star power—to the latest shitty cheapie from the unholy alliance of Emmett/Furla Oasis Films (apparently rebranded as 5 Star Films?) and distributor Grindstone Entertainment (a subsidiary of Lionsgate that's handing domestic distribution) in association with Bondit Media Capital, Verdi Productions, SSS Entertainment, Head Gear Films and Metrol Technology, Arcana Studios, Inc., as well as Highland Film Group (foreign sales). Hey, listen, folks: they don't call it show business for nothing.

Oh, you better believe this is directed by James Cullen Bressack, whose previous films include the utterly dispiriting Bruce Willis-Chad Michael Murray starrers Survive the Game and Fortress. Not surprisingly, Hot Seat is a ludicrous action fantasy full to bursting with lunkheaded macho banter and every cliche in the cat-and-mouse cyber-thriller handbook. Johnny Drama himself—Kevin Dillon, that is—stars as Orlando Friar (stop giggling!), an ex-hacker who finds himself held hostage in a Semtex-rigged office chair (the titular "hot" seat) by a voice-distorted baddie gleefully pulling the strings of an infinitely implausible master plan, taunting all the way. Gibson comes in as the bomb-squad vet tasked with saving the day when not being insulted for his age.

Back to show business. Here's how it goes in today's B-movie film market: you meet the quote of a big enough name to put on the poster—someone formerly A list—then you move down to somebody C-list to stand on the other side of your poster, and presto! You have no money left to make a good movie, but that hardly matters, because your script is schlock that would get you laughed out of the writer’s room of a network-TV procedural. You make it anyway, and now you can say you directed Mel Gibson in a film.

If I sound a little pissy, it’s because I knew what I was in for after the laugh-out-loud pre-title sequence, but had to forge ahead all the same out of professional obligation. That teaser features the first of many godawful graphics that typify these movies, which must stretch their budgets paper-thin, mostly by limiting their sets to a couple of offices. Hot Seat breaks the rule of not referencing a better film by invoking Apocalypse Now (repeatedly), Old Yeller, and Action Jackson by name.

Fancy this choice bit of dialogue: a crime-scene cop barks, “Get the fuck in there. We got a briefing,” and Gibson “quips” in response, “I hope it’s brief.” Drop the mic; that scene’s over. Then there's one of my least favorite archetypes of lousy thrillers: the psycho who passes in daily life but acts like the Joker when it’s go time. Look, I've seen worse, but there's no reason you have to.

The only extra on Lionsgate's Blu-ray + Digital Copy edition is a trailer.

Aspect ratios: 1080p

Number of discs: 1

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; DTS-HD Master Audio 52.0

Street date: 8/9/2022


Review gear:

  • Panasonic Viera TC-P55VT30 55" Plasma 1080p 3D HDTV
  • Oppo BDP-93 Universal Network 3D Blu-ray Disc Player
  • Denon AVR2112CI Integrated Network A/V Surround Receiver
  • Pioneer SP-BS41-LR Bookshelf Speaker (2)
  • Pioneer SP-C21 Center Speaker
  • Pioneer SW-8 Subwoofer