'Hot Seat' review: Sam Asghari and Mel Gibson can't save this film fail

It's far from compelling, but Britney Spears's husband manages to add complexity to the story

Mel Gibson, Eddie Steeples and Shannen Doherty in 'Hot Seat'. Photo: Lionsgate
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You can tell that Hot Seat is going to be underwhelming even before its title card has exploded on to the screen.

After only two minutes and 10 seconds, viewers get to see a parade of terrible extras, who have clearly not been provided with much direction, and hear a gnawing and cliched soundtrack, all of which is topped off by laughably bad special effects.

Director James Cullen Bressack’s attempts at creating tension within this sequence fall so flat, you’re left with zero confidence that Hot Seat will come close to being compelling.

Hot Seat

Director: James Cullen Bressack

Stars: Mel Gibson, Kevin Dillon, Shannen Doherty, Sam Asghari

Rating: 1/5

Which is particularly infuriating, because the film actually has a rather impressive cast at its disposal. Platoon, The Doors and Entourage actor Kevin Dillon stars as Orlando Friar, a former computer hacker who has taken a stable job with an internet customer service company so that he can keep out of trouble. Unfortunately, this means that he has to work long hours, and his wife Kim (Lydia Hull) and teenage daughter Zoey (Anna Harr) have long become disillusioned by his absence.

They’re even more upset when Orlando is forced to miss Zoey’s birthday because of work. He is soon given much more to be concerned about when an anonymous criminal calls into his job and reveals that he has planted bombs underneath his chair and at his home. If Orlando doesn’t hack into several banks, the criminal will blow him and his family up.

Soon, Orlando’s efforts catch the attention of authorities, and bomb experts Wallace (Mel Gibson) and Jackson (Eddie Steeples), as well as detectives Pam (Shannen Doherty) and Tobias (Sam Asghari), mistake him for the criminal mastermind.

One of the many, many issues with Hot Seat is that Dillon does not have the presence to carry such a movie. Maybe it’s the result of his performances as Entourage’s Johnny Drama, who in the show is a C-list actor that regularly appears in below-par and cheesy action flicks, but Dillon is never able to authentically sell the tension and terror of the plot.

He’s not helped by his supporting cast for most of the film, as his co-workers and fellow hostages Enzo (Michael Welch) and Ava (Kate Katzman) are too annoying and hysterical, respectively.

Hot Seat is actually much more watchable when it focuses on the law enforcement officials that are trying to apprehend Orlando. While Gibson’s presence in a film is always problematic, he still has a raw magnetism that’s impossible to ignore. He also strikes up a natural and warm camaraderie with Steeples, and the pair are the ones who are able to inject genuine pressure and even humour into proceedings.

Despite their lack of screen time, Doherty and Asghari also add complexity and suspense to the story, as they slowly start to wonder if Orlando is actually the thief. Asghari, 28, Britney Spears's husband who was born in Tehran, Iran, and has been building up a fine CV over the last few years, especially makes his mark, which is even more impressive when you consider he’s actually only in a few scenes.

Unfortunately, none of these actors can come close to actually saving Hot Seat. The terrible writing of Collin Watts and Leon Langford and Bressack’s wayward direction stop the action thriller from ever building up any momentum. Not only is the film full of cheesy dialogue, poor jokes and heavy-handed exposition, but, come its sub-par conclusion, you’ll also immediately remember various plot holes, which stop it from making any sense.

There’s a good movie somewhere in Hot Seat. But, thanks to a cheap approach and what appears to be a rushed writing process and production, it never stood a chance.

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Updated: July 07, 2022, 10:43 AM
Hot Seat

Director: James Cullen Bressack

Stars: Mel Gibson, Kevin Dillon, Shannen Doherty, Sam Asghari

Rating: 1/5