High Heat, the newest movie from director Zach Golden (The Escape of Prisoner 614) should, on paper, be considered a bottom-of-the-barrel B-movie action flick. The movie completely works for for some reason (primarily due to James Pedersen’s entertaining screenplay in his feature writing debut). A crazy but amusing action movie with lots of humor and extreme violence that is just as entertaining as it is silly!
The opening of a new bistro restaurant marks the beginning of High Heat. All appears to be going well when head chef Ana (Olga Kurylenko) finally realizes her lifelong dream of opening her own restaurant. Although she is demanding of her kitchen crew, they are on board and aware of the risks and excitement. Their opening night appears to be going off without a hitch, and her husband Ray (Don Johnson), who owns the business, is mingling with the guests with that Don Johnson trademark charm. All of that changes when Ray is approached by two suspicious individuals who say, “tonight.” It turns out that Ray required seed money for this restaurant (and this isn’t the first time he’s needed to borrow money from the local mob for start-up money for one of his many failing restaurants) and is currently in debt for more than $1 million to guys you wouldn’t want to owe $20 to.
A couple more people arrive at the restaurant after it closes with plans to set it on fire for the insurance money while Ray is taken away by the mobsters led by Mickey (Ivan Martin). They did not anticipate Ana and her abilities, though. She is not only an expert at slicing and dicing food in the kitchen, but she has also been keeping a secret: she is an ex-KGB agent who is more than capable of fighting, stabbing, and shooting anyone who stands in her way!
They are unaware that Ana has dismembered his goons since she doesn’t want anyone interfering with the opening of her restaurant. Ray is being taken away by Mickey to a meeting with Mickey’s dad Dom (the one and only former wrestler-turned-Yoga fanatic: “Diamond” Dallas Page). The scene is set for a fun evening because Dom is now determined to use all means necessary to get his money back. To kill her, he sends multitudes of henchmen after her. He even sends Gary, his massage therapist, whom he likes more than his son Mickey and who is hilarious as he is not built for this (Jackie Long), to try and take on Ana.
As Ana takes on scores of henchmen, she realizes that she needs some help of her own. She proceeds to call her former friend (and also KGB sleeper agent) Mimi (Kaitlin Doubleday). Just as in the news (and shown in FX’s The Americans and Black Widow) Mimi’s family are also Russian agents. Her husband Tom (Chris Diamantopoulos) is an expert sniper, and their twin daughters (Chiara D’Ambrosio and Bianca D’Ambrosio) are equally deadly. This family, though, is dealing with its own crisis. Mimi and her husband are a squabbling married couple who have seen three marital counselors and are continually arguing in a funny way. While Mimi is quite unconventional and outspoken, Tom tends to be more reserved. Ana doesn’t exactly trust them, despite the fact that she needs their assistance. The friendship between Ana and Mimi and their falling out isn’t explored in great detail in High Heat, but Mimi’s family does offer some hilarious comic relief.
High Heat is a creative tribute to the action-comedy movies of the past, but it doesn’t reinvent the wheel. Olga Kurylenko and Don Johnson both shine in the movie. DDP, who doesn’t have a long list of credits, is clearly having a great time playing a crime boss who repeatedly disparages his son while extolling the virtues of his massage therapist. High Heat’s script is astute, and director Zach Golden creates some sharp and intriguing action sequences. It is obvious that the set was a closed one in the era of Covid as the majority of the scenes take place in the restaurant’s kitchen or the parking garage. Overall though, High Heat is a pleasant trip that’s worth an hour and a half of turning your brain off for.
High Heat is currently in theaters, digital, and On Demand.