Earlier this year, we were presented with a big budget Netflix actioner called The Gray Man, which hailed from Avengers mavens The Russo Bros. It was a flashy and expensive espionage throwdown flick where a man is yanked out of prison to become a covert operative, only for him to turn his back on his handlers and be hunted by them mercilessly when he finds out how dirty they really are.
That movie was, well, not great. Despite having a great cast (Ryan Gosling! Chris Evans! Billy Bob Thornton!) and a solid tropey boilerplate plot, the execution of it all hampered things at every turn. Why am I bringing this up?
Because Section 8 is another movie about a man who is yanked out of prison to become a covert operative, only for him to turn his back on his handlers and be hunted by them mercilessly when he finds out how dirty they really are. Except it’s better!
Director Christian Sesma (Vigilante Diaries, Paydirt) doesn’t have nearly the same amount of resources at his disposal that the Russos did, but he does have a damn good cast of his own in the form of Ryan Kwanten (True Blood, Red Hill), Dolph Lundgren (Red Scorpion, Universal Soldier), Dermot Mulroney (Young Guns, Survival Quest), and Scott Adkins (Savage Dog, The Debt Collector). Not bad, right? Mickey Rourke (Angel Heart, Sin City) rears his rough mug here as well, but he’s a glorified cameo. All of his scenes were clearly shot in a single day and he honestly doesn’t add much to the overall film. The lone bit of wasted casting on display here.
I’m not going to give you a larger rundown of the plot. Let’s just say that, for our hero, tragedy leads to vengeance, which in turn leads to him misguidedly joining the titular team. What is Section 8? It’s basically a dirtbag version of Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six. Hell, this film is basically like someone took Netflix’s The Gray Man and Amazon’s Without Remorse, tossed them into a blender, and then dosed themselves with an adrenaline shot while chugging the result.
Section 8 is not a balls out action classic, but what it IS is a highly entertaining slice of DTV action cinema. The budget constraints might rear there heads in terms of location shooting, but none of that matters much when you’re in the thrall of its shootouts and fisticuffs. Particularly when it comes to the sequences involving my man Scott Adkins, who is as much of an action dynamo here as usual.
Kwanten makes for a fine action lead, injecting plenty of pathos into his broken hero, while also bringing it every step of the way as a shooter and a fighter. Dermot Mulroney is appropriately sleazy as a shady government stooge; giving us his best douchebag Mel Gibson routine. Dolph Lundgren, in a welcome surprise, is allowed to actually act here, in addition to shooting goons. Given how talented I’ve always felt he is as an actor, that’s a real bonus. Adkins is, of course, an absolute highlight, although he’s merely a supporting player in this flick.
I’m not familiar with Tracy Perez and Justin Furstenfeld as performers. Both play fellow members of the Section 8 team and both manage to stand out from some of the blander henchmen on the roster. Furstenfeld in particular makes for a delightful slimeball of an adversary. Hopefully we see more from him in the future.
Section 8 might not be an instant classic, but it’s a damn good little slice of DTV action fun. If you’re in the mood for a movie that feels like it was ripped straight out of the mid-’90s, your search is over. Give this one a spin, be it on VOD or on AMC+, where it is currently streaming exclusively.
Section 8 is an original action thriller. It was directed by Christian Sesma, from a screenplay by Chad Law and Josh Ridgway. The film was produced by Brandon Burrows, Scott Adkins, Chad Law, Dolph Lundgren, Lonnie Ramati, Christian Sesma, and Kimberly Hines. It stars Ryan Kwanten, Dolph Lundgren, Dermot Mulroney, Tracy Perez, Justin Furstenfeld, Scott Adkins, Robert LaSardo, and Mickey Rourke.