Since before I’ve covered his work, Sesma has been one of the hardest working directors to pop up my radar and has slowly but surely increased his profile a little more over the years, working with names like Jason Mewes, Luke Goss, the RZA, Val Kilmer and Michael Jai White to name a few. That it took as long as it did to finally get to share space with action stars Scott Adkins and Dolph Lundgren is probably a crime in the eyes of some, but perhaps a blessing in others, considering that some good things in life deserve a wait.
That wait now brings us Section 8, penned by Chad Law and Josh Ridgeway with a cast led by Ryan Kwanten, who plays Jake, an ex-soldier now working in his uncle Earl’s (Mickey Rourke) garage as a mechanic struggling to support his wife and son. Suddenly, his life gets turned upside down when he enacts vengeance following an attack on his family by a vicious local gang and is subsequently incarcerated, only to find himself vetted by a black ops spook named Ramsey (Dermot Mulroney) who heads up a secret unit of mercenaries tasked with performing the uglier jobs the government wants off the books.
Reluctant at first, Jake eventually accepts his newfound place among the unit with the expectation that he’ll perform as required, save for the suspicion that he’ll at one point freeze and hesitate to kill a target. As alluded to in the official trailer above from RLJE Films, this is exactly the case, and with events now culminating into Jake’s literal fight for survival against a shady team of government assassins who now want him dead, including Ramsey’s own personal asset, Locke (Adkins), a fast moving killer with a reputation to uphold and no compunction for eliminating anyone in his way.
Commonly, watching a lot of independent action movies might bring you full circle with plenty of familiar mechanisms you might recognize along the way, including in Section 8, everything from certain locations to the faces of the stunt guys in the background, including appearances by Paul Sloan and Mary Christina Brown who’ve been with Sesma long since his heyday with Vigilante Diaries. It might also feel like Rourke isn’t even in the same room as Kwanten in their scenes and that can easily be deduced to a scheduling issue, but that’s my opinion, and I could be wrong. To that affect, though, their scenes “together” felt a little too artificial, despite all efforts toward any intended dramatic depth and closeness as on-screen uncle and nephew, which made the writing feel a little more mundane than preferred.
Kwanten definitely carries the part as Jake, with actors Kimi Alexander and Noah Alexander Sosnowski as Jake’s on-screen wife and son, respectively. Mulroney delivers some much needed seasoned screen caliber in the villainous role of Ramsey alongside the likes of Tracey Perez’s character, as well as that of Justin Furstenfeld, who comes out with one of the best lines I’ve ever heard leading up to a fight scene, and speaking of, the action junkies looking forward to this can expect plenty. There’s isn’t much to take away from Lundgren in this one, however – it’s a pretty good part too and he does what he can from a supporting angle, but that’s just about all I can say without revealing anything.
Enter Adkins, who also serves as one of the film’s executive producers, marking another reunion with stunt and fight coordinator Luke LaFontaine. A lot of the action will be a bit textbook until Adkins enters the fray at the film’s halfway point, and boy does he know how to put his signature on it when the time arrives. He’s got two of the film’s key fight scenes, with the finale of the film solidly set between him and Kwanten, and they both sell it brilliantly and equally brutally.
As the first of three films from Adkins, you can expect to hear a lot more from Sesma, who is undoubtedly about to become just a little more prolific after Section 8. It suffices as a solid Kwanten headliner with some interesting character moments, as well as a welcome cameo from character actor Robert LaSardo earlier on in the film, and if your an Adkins collectivist, I don’t deny you’ll be compelled to see Section 8 when it opens in theaters and streams this Friday, exclusively on AMC+.