Director: Brad Watson
Cast: Daniel Stisen, Lauren Okadigbo, Yennis Cheung, Byron Gibson, Phillip Ray Tommy
Duration: 87 mins.
By Henry McKand
At some point this year The siegethe lead hitman played by the Norwegian bodybuilding champion Daniel Stisen pronounces these three magic words:
“I’ll be back.”
If Arnold doesn’t already come to mind when you see Stisen’s huge frame tearing bad guys apart, this line is sure to make the connection. Like all the strong men who have leapt to action stardom in the last forty years, he has a big pair of Austrian shoes to fill. His previous headlining attempt, the 2021 testosterone fest The last man down, was an ’80s throwback in more ways than one, but a humorless “COVID apocalypse” tone (and a million other things) made it very different from the Schwarzenegger classics of the past. In this age of detached irony, it’s refreshing to see an action hero who’s not a snarky joke machine, but The last man down it was practically lifeless. Fortunately, The siege he’s smart enough to inject a dose of Dad Movie excitement and humor into his story of killers by the numbers.
Stisen plays a self-proclaimed nobody who makes a living sending high-profile targets. When his face is seen during a chore, he is forced to go to an “identity reassignment facility” so that he can be given a new name (the generic “Walker”). Apparently this is such a common occurrence for him that he is on a first name basis with the staff which makes you wonder if he is really that good at his job. Regardless, another hitman named Elda (Lauren Okadigbo) knows him by reputation the moment they meet at the facility, and it isn’t long before mercenaries attack and she needs his help to protect the target. assault: a pregnant woman. named Juliet (Yennis Cheung).
It’s funny to imagine Stisen, a twitching piece of muscle with a mountain man’s beard, trying to switch identities to become more anonymous. His Walker is a killer in the same way that Arnold was an “American sheriff”. Raw deal. It sounds like it would come in very handy if you ever need someone eliminated in an arm wrestling competition, but its lack of visual subtlety is what makes it fun to watch on screen. These dudes once dominated a corner of the video store, so it’s nice to see this kind of angry mob back at the center of an action movie.
Adding to Stisen “oh-my-god-is-this-boy-is-real?” charm are his stoic expressions and almost impossibly raspy voice, which have been used in The last man down to make it as grumpy as possible. The siege may not allow Walker to do that mashed potato very emotional, but Nicole Bartlett and Tom Paton’s script gives him at least the chance to roll his eyes or smile a few times. He has quite a rapport with the facility’s staff, and Michael Geary particularly stands out as Smithee, an awkward doctor who adds a bit of levity to proceedings. Okadigbo and Cheung are both solid in their relatively bland roles, and together with Stisen they make a solid trio. The character’s job is kind of like the gun he wields for much of the film: it’s not special, but it will do the job of him.
But…why did it have to be a gun? The siege commits the cardinal sin of showing you a full arsenal of heavy machinery and then barely using it. Here’s a protagonist who’s practically begging to pick up huge rifles and rip turrets out of the ground, but he’s stuck with what looks like a blowgun for most of the runtime. Even worse, the shooting is more of what has been dominating lately: tactical mock choreography with digital muzzle flashes in dark corridors. The limping hangover means the shots themselves are never as muscular as the man pulling the trigger.
For another film, this might be a superficial complaint, but the heavy combat is THE why you decide to watch a movie with this guy on the poster. The last man down it may have had its faults (again, there were millions), but it had the decency to give him beefy axes and machine guns, and the blood effects were more practical and visceral than you’d expect.
This is perhaps the only way to do it The siege it is inferior to Stisen’s last effort. These unfortunate shortcomings are made up for by director Brad Watson’s steady hand behind the camera. It’s no visual feast, but Watson understands lighting and composition better than many novice action directors. There are even some moments here that feel like (gasp!) storyboards, and a sequence that uses shadows to depict a violent takedown is impressive.
But above all, it’s the pacing that makes the film work. At 87 minutes, he respects his audience’s time. Setup is snappy, putting all the necessary pieces together in under half an hour; I breathed a sigh of relief when I realized the bad guys were actually going to storm the building as soon as they did. He moves between set pieces without getting bogged down in pointless plot baggage. Furthermore, the title is not false advertising: it is part of the long tradition of B-or-less-movies that borrow from Assault on District 13E’s timeless setup keeps the focus on the action.
Let’s go back to the starting point. After saying “I’ll be back,” Stisen pauses and ends the sentence with the slightly less exciting “…in two minutes.” Maybe there’s a reason The Terminator didn’t specify exactly how long it would take him. In a way, that sums it up The siege. It will make you think of great movies you’ve already seen, but ultimately it can’t help but disappoint. Alright then! Very few films can reach that level, but there is still fun to be had.
It’s not very good, but it’s miles above anything The last man down He was doing. Stisen is showing growth, and that’s all that matters to him in the end. I hope he will indeed come back…just with something more worthy of his training regimen.
Henry McKeand rating: 5/10