When the least believable thing in your film is Scott Adkins as a tech guy, you know you’re going to have a good time. Isaac Florentine’s Seized stars Scott Adkins as Nero, a former special forces operative who lives on the California beach with his son Taylor (Matthew Garbacz). Nero’s tranquil life is suddenly disrupted when Mzamo (Mario Van Peebles) kidnaps Nero’s son. To get his son back, Nero has one job: kill. Should Nero fail to complete Mzamo’s tasks, Taylor will be killed through carbon monoxide. It’s a race against time as Nero must unleash his hidden killer to rescue his son.
RAD: Seized is a lean and mean shot of adrenaline! Florentine wastes no time in dishing out high-octane action spectacle. The fluid fight sequences are shot in an intelligible way; there is no shaky cam or frantic editing. Adkins kicks, flips, and even gets to fight with both hands behind his back. In an era where the Schwarzeneggers and Stallones are but relics of the past, Adkins proves to be the rightful heir to the action heroes of old. The film follows the same pattern throughout: go to one location and kill everyone in sight. What keeps the sequences from feeling tedious are the technical craft of the stunt performers and the fluid cinematography.
Mario Van Peebles also makes an exciting turn as the bad guy Mzamo and almost steals the whole film. For a direct-to-video action film, it’s refreshing to see an actor fully committing to their role as the big bad. It’s certainly not a Hans Gruber performance, but Van Peebles makes the most with the material he’s given and goes for it. In turn, Mzamo ends up being much more engaging than he would have been under the hands of a lesser actor. As a bonus, Mario Van Peebles even gets to perform some of his stunts which is a fun little treat.
BAD: On a technical aspect, the action is spectacular. The biggest issue with Seized is the lackluster dramatic arc. Nero has lost his wife and has a strained relationship with his son. We don’t see nearly enough to establish the father/son relationship. The character of Taylor is badly written and comes across as unlikeable right from the start of the film. The angsty teenager trope is commonplace in films like this, but the character is horrible to his father who’s just trying to emotionally connect with him. A few more scenes to humanize Taylor would have better established the emotional stakes.
The third act is both the film’s strength as well as its weakness. On the one hand, the action reaches its peak, but Florentine decides to make some questionable twists and turns that were not properly set up during the first two-thirds of the film. While the fight sequences are undoubtedly exceptional, the payoff never quite reaches a satisfying conclusion. The film gives us something different from what we were anticipating.
THE FINAL TAKEDOWN: Overall, Seized is an excellent way to spend a quiet afternoon. For DTV action films, Adkins continues to prove why he’s the king of the genre. It’s not the most innovative action film in Adkins’ filmography, but it most certainly gets the job done in delivering simple thrills and entertaining beatdowns. Seized is an endorsement for fans of Scott Adkins and low-budget action filmmaking.