Review by Sean Boelman
We’ve seen it time and time again: a B-movie partnering a legend of the screen with a pretty recognizable up-and-comer against the backdrop of a plot that both of them are too good for. In High Heat, it’s Don Johnson and Olga Kurylenko to fit that bill, but director Zach Golden manages to elevate the material into something surprisingly fun.
The film follows a chef with a mysterious past as she is forced to defend her restaurant when the mafia come to burn it down in search of a debt owed to them by her husband. Given that most of the movie is confined to the restaurant, you’d think it would get old pretty quickly, but Golden’s dynamic direction keeps it refreshing.
The action isn’t particularly innovative, but the violence comes in short bursts that are consistent enough through the film to keep the momentum going. And at a mere eighty-three minutes in length, it’s hard to screw up a B-grade action flick so long as it’s action-packed and doesn’t feel overly serious.
Olga Kurylenko has shown plenty of potential in the past to be the next great badass action heroine — she’s just waiting for the right project to come along to showcase her talents. While High Heat isn’t quite the project to slingshot her into stardom, she’s still very good here, and obviously having a blast in the role.
That being said, her chemistry with co-star Don Johnson isn’t particularly strong — but just as much blame can be placed on Johnson as her. Johnson is phoning it in a bit, almost as if he feels he is above doing this. Yet despite this, he nonetheless manages to crack a few witty one-liners that will leave a smile on the viewer’s face.
As is the case with many B-movies, the character development might as well be irrelevant. The marriage stuff between Kurylenko and Johnson’s characters is just not very interesting, and the background they give Kurylenko to have combat skills is lazy and generic, but the target audience of this won’t really care.
Apart from those quips, the humor mostly falls flat. One subplot, following a bickering assassin couple (Kaitlin Doubleday and Chris Diamantopoulos) just spins its wheels. It almost feels as if it was taken out of a completely different script and shoved into this one because things were running too short.
High Heat might be a good movie by conventional standards, but in terms of schlocky B-movie action flicks, you could do worse. It’s definitely a step in the right direction for Kurylenko, who is actually used properly here — maybe someone will see this and cast her in the role she deserves.
High Heat hits VOD on December 16.