Review by Sean Boelman
A few actors have recently taken their place as perpetual stars of crappy B-movies released straight to video-on-demand, and Bruce Willis is the top among their ranks. But believe it or not, American Siege may be the first time Willis has given a damn in years, his performance being the sole inspired bit in an otherwise lifeless film.
The movie follows a group of thieves who take a doctor hostage hoping to discover the truth about a cold case involving their missing loved one. It’s both a mystery and a standoff movie, but the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t manage to do either one particularly well, with not enough twists and turns or claustrophobia to create the needed suspense.
The film clocks in with a thankfully short ninety minute runtime, but there’s not as much action as one would expect to push it along. Mainly, it’s just a bunch of shouting (including an unintentionally hilarious rant about “gay vegans in San Francisco”) with an occasional shoot-out interspersed, building up to a climax that is admittedly a good bit of fun.
Those hoping that there would be some sort of greater meaning to the movie will certainly be disappointed, but then again, who really expects a Bruce Willis VOD movie to be thoughtful? There are missed opportunities here to explore the corruption in law enforcement and Big Pharma, but these are reduced to nothing more than plot points.
It definitely would have helped had the audience cared about literally any one person in the film. It’s certainly frustrating that the movie comes from so many different perspectives. In trying to make the audience sympathize with the different perspectives, it loses track of the human aspect of the story.
Bruce Willis has become notorious for phoning in his performances as of late, and that surprisingly isn’t the case here. He seems to be actually having a bit of fun in a role that actually allows him to be the hero again rather than just the grizzled mentor. He acts circles around most of the rest of the cast, except Cullen G. Chambers, who gives his best Keith David impersonation.
You can tell that this movie didn’t have a huge budget attached to it, and the money it had was mostly spent on paying Willis to show up, but it doesn’t even make the most out of it. Given that the film is largely set in and around a single house, one would think that the cinematography would at least have a sense of spatial geography, but it doesn’t.
American Siege is ultimately a lot better than a majority of the recent Bruce Willis VOD schlock that has been released, but that’s not saying much. It’s mostly just a pretty dull and boring movie, minus one scene which shows that Willis still has the potential to be the action star he once was.
American Siege hits theaters and VOD on January 7.