Review: American Siege (2021)

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American Siege (2021)

Directed by: Edward Drake | 100 minutes | action, thriller | Actors: Bruce Willis, Rob Gough, Timothy V. Murphy, Johann Urb, Anna Hindman, Trevor Gretzky, Cullen G. Chambers, Eric Buarque, Janet Jones, Johnny Messner, Joe Munroe, Kelcey Rose, Sarah May Sommers

After the reasonable ‘Apex’ (2021) and the cringe-inducing ‘Cosmic Sin’ (2021), ‘American Siege’ (also 2021) is the third (and not yet last) collaboration between director Edward Drake and action star Bruce Willis. The film opens with a sort of compilation of ultra-short cuts from the film, as if they were actually intended for the trailer, but were later pasted over to grab the viewer’s attention. The first scene in which we see Willis, he is sleeping in his rocking chair. Fortunately for the fans, this does not bode well for the Hollywood actor’s commitment, although with his latest batch of B-movies he shows that his heart rate will never exceed 100 p/m during filming. He reportedly completed his work on this film in one day.

Willis plays Sheriff Ben Watts, a law enforcement officer (on paper) in a sleepy Georgia town (also on paper). The man who is really in control is wealthy Charles Rutledge (Timothy V. Murphy), whose son, Deputy Kyle (Trevor Gretzky), Ben teams up with. Ben gets a bribe from Rutledge, but doesn’t understand how the fork really works. That is more indifference than stupidity, by the way. Then there’s Marisa (Janet Jones), a female sheriff’s deputy, who relies on the bottle just as much as Ben does.

Meanwhile, we also got to meet Roy (Rob Gough), just out of prison, Grace (Anna Louise Morse) and Toby (Johann Urb). They know each other because they come from the same foster family. Ten years ago, Grace’s sister Brigit (Sara May Sommers) disappeared under suspicious circumstances. An investigation was done (guess who the sheriff was on duty at the time?!), but no body was found. No corpse, no crime, but Grace and Roy (who was in love with Brigit) can’t live with that.

The plan is to take hostage the man Brigit was last seen near: John Keats (Cullen G. Chambers). Keats is a retired pharmacist who lives in a remote house surrounded by water and forests. He has an armed bodyguard, but he’s no match for the aggressive, trigger-happy Grace. Once they’ve taken Keats hostage, the information about Brigit’s fate will come naturally, that’s pretty much the line of thought.

Of course things are different. Not only will Rutledge get involved, the FBI also announces her arrival. Ben is dishonorably discharged by Rutledge during this hostage situation, but nevertheless develops something of a conscience and suddenly becomes motivated in his old age to do the right thing. None of the characters are well developed, though Kyle still gets a surprising amount of backstory in relative terms (leaving his gun on the counter when buying donuts, intimidated by his father when he fails to hit the target at the skeet shooting) .

‘American Siege’ isn’t all that bad, but there’s a lot more (needless) talk than action. And that is disastrous for a film with such a thin plot as this one, because it quickly becomes boring. You care too little about the characters to be curious about the ending, but the fact that Bruce still shows some of his old self at the end makes up for something. The makers also require a lot of suspension of disbelief from the viewer at a certain location that plays a fairly important role in the film. Although ‘American Siege’ quickly feels uninteresting, you can’t blame the makers for the predictability of the twist. It’s also not much cinematographically, but you do notice now and then that the cameraman has done his best, with some nice shots of details of the house or focusing on fired weapons.

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