Vengeance is at the heart of Section 8 – a brand-new action film from director Christian Sesma and stars Ryan Kwanten, Dolph Lundgren, Mickey Rourke, Dermot Mulroney, and Scott Adkins. But does it kick the audience in the face with more action than anyone can handle or sweep its own leg?
The premise of Section 8
Jake (Kwanten), a former special forces soldier, lives a simple and unassuming life as a in a small town with his wife and son. One fateful day, his family is gunned down and Jake takes revenge on the assassins. He is sent to prison where he expects to spend the rest of his days, until a mysterious man named Ramsey (Mulroney) offers him a chance to get out and join an off-the-books elite group known as Section 8. However, this special division might not be everything it’s painted out to be.
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A revenge story that turns into an all-out actioner
Section 8 is a tale of two movies – quite literally. The first half is Death Wish, if Paul Kersey had been more efficient and straight to the point, while the second part shares many similarities with the recent Chris Pine film, The Contractor. That said, Section 8 never reaches the lofty classic heights of the former, nor is it as bland as the latter – it’s somewhere in between.
What Sesma does right here is to vary up the pacing and predictability of this kind of narrative that can feel too linear. While there are more than a handful of plot twists the audience should pick up on before they’re revealed, Section 8 doesn’t flow as expected. More importantly, it includes something that wrestling fans refer to as a double swerve – in simpler terms, a twist for a twist.
Thin story but great action scenes
The story might be tying together the scenes by the tiniest of threads, but this isn’t the film someone puts on for the drama and eye-soaking performances. It’s all about the action here. The good news is Kwanten, Lundgren, and Adkins deliver on that front, as there’s a healthy blend of hand-to-hand combat and gunfire battles scattered throughout the film. While more of Adkins would be welcome in any action flick, he makes the most of his screen time and proves he’ll always be the perfect Batman in our hearts.
Kwanten is also highly believable as the protagonist, Jake. The bond he shares with his former commanding officer (Lundgren) is something the audience will feel and appreciate, as there’s mutual respect and admiration between the two of them, while the pain and loss of his family lingers in the air throughout. In fact, Kwanten’s performance in Section 8 will make many people wonder why he hasn’t been cast as a lead in more high-profile films. He was excellent in James Wan’s horror Dead Silence and Joe Lynch’s comedy Knights of Badassdom, showcasing his diversity as an actor, and he can add action star to his credentials as well.
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Section 8 delivers on all its promises. From the synopsis and trailer, it’s set up as a revenge tale that spirals into undercover ops – and this is exactly what it does. In the end, it might not have enough mettle to become the next Die Hard or Death Wish, but it will still hit all the right sweet spots for action junkies. Don’t be surprised if this becomes a major favourite on streaming platforms in the near future.