American Siege, 2021.
Written and Directed by Edward Drake.
Starring Timothy V. Murphy, Bruce Willis, Rob Gough, Anna Louise Morse, Johnny Messner, Cullen G. Chambers, Trevor Gretzky, and Janet Jones.
An ex-NYPD officer-turned-sheriff of a small rural Georgia town has to contend with a gang of thieves who have taken a wealthy doctor hostage.
In the early goings, this new collaboration between Edward Drake and Bruce Willis titled American Siege the duo were (responsible for the dreadful Cosmic Sin) has a character start taking potshots at the latter’s laziness. To be fair, the comments are directed at the small-town Georgian sheriff that Bruce Willis is playing, who seems to be doing anything and everything he can to get out of working that day (he calls his partner Marisa and asks her to take over his responsibilities). It’s as if the characters are now becoming synonymous with just how little of a fuck Bruce Willis gives about acting nowadays. I will also admit I have no problems throwing American Siege a few small points for at least having a sense of humor at how embarrassing it is to see Bruce Willis on screen lately, but that doesn’t make this movie any less of an embarrassment itself.
Like most movies involving Bruce Willis so far this decade, advertising him in a starring role is disingenuous, as here his screen time mostly amounts to standing out in an open field of grass making casual conversation with his partner Kyle Rutledge (Trevor Gretzky) treating a hostage situation with as little urgency as someone packing grocery store bags. The dialogue is so casual and plain; it feels less from Edward Drake’s script (he also collaborated on the story with Corey Large) and more chitchat caught on camera in between actual shooting that just made its way into the movie anyway.
Anyway, the center of the story concerns a trio of hooligans, one of which has just been released from prison and is looking to settle a score with everyone from law enforcement to pharmacists and whoever else might have had something to do with the disappearance of his girlfriend. Accompanying Roy (Rob Gough) on this vengeful quest are the Baker siblings (Toby and Grace, played by Johann Urb and Anna Hindman), also related to the missing woman (Rob Gough). The gist is that while Toby and Grace have always been bad apples, whether it be related to drug addiction or an obsession with guns, their sister was always the innocent one that no one would have suspected to become involved in a suspicious and dangerous situation.
The plan is to storm the remote location of pharmacist John Keats (Cullen G. Chambers, doing a Morgan Freeman impression), convinced he has information on what exactly happened. There is also a secure door inside the building that could potentially lead to some secrets, so long as this unhinged group can find a way to blow it open (not even C4 works). They are also an irritating bunch, with Toby serving as a brainless slab of meat that drops one conspiracy theory after another of what Keats is up to (we’re talking lazy references to Pizzagate, lizard people, and some other deranged talking points that are supposed to be funny but probably only are if you are someone that prioritizes every second of your life to ‘pwning the libs’). For some inexplicable reason, the movie also finds time for a character to out of nowhere and distastefully lambast “gay vegans in Los Angeles” during what is intended to be a serious speech.
Grace fares somewhat better as a hardened woman with attitude and marksmanship, but she also has her grating moments. That’s also a shame because in more capable hands and knowing that some horrifying coverups are going on in the town, these characters could have been compelling as uneducated antihero rednecks. Technically, they are antiheroes, but it’s more of a blessing whenever one of them is killed off rather than something worth caring about.
As the hostage dynamic develops, reinforcements are called in, ranging from the hotheaded police chief Charles Rutledge (Timothy V. Murphy), the feds, drones, some other generic henchmen, and a shady man named Silas, inevitably paving the way for carnage and destruction that is wholly forgettable. It also doesn’t help that once the bullets start flying in every direction, Edward Drake is more concerned with allowing Bruce Willis to be the hero, strolling right up to major villains with all the speed of someone walking through molasses and shooting them in the head. It’s also impossible to give a damn about anything going on given the outrageous narrative turns American Siege takes. The only thing under siege is more of your brain cells watching more straight-to-video Bruce Willis drek.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com