Tuesday, December 13, 2022

High Heat, Starring Olga Kurylenko and Don Johnson

As they say on cooking shows, Ana Abramov has “knife skills.” She trained at the Cordon Bleu and the KGB. When mobsters try to ruin her restaurant’s opening night, she chops them instead in Zach Golden’s High Heat, which releases Friday in theaters and on VOD.

Abramov manages the kitchen, keeping a sharp eye out for broken sauces, while her roguish older husband Ray spreads his smarmy charm around the front-of-the-house. Their partnership works smoothly, until Mick and his goons show up. It turns out, Ray maybe sort of borrowed money from Mick’s father Dom, promising to repay it by torching the restaurant for the insurance money. Of course, he neglected to tell his wife that part, but she skipped over her KGB past too, so he figures they are even. He also assumed Dom would give him more time to pay-off his debt, but something came up for the gangster, requiring some quick ready cash.

Of course, Abramov can easily handle the initial handful of thugs sent to firebomb the place after closing. However, as Dom sends in more and more henchman, Abramov calls in a risky favor from Mimi, her estranged former KGB partner, now living as a suburban merc with her henpecked husband and partner, Tom. There is a good chance Mimi might kill Abramov too. She’ll make up her mind when she gets there. Regardless, Abramov can only really trust her husband. He might be a screw-up, but they still have that spark.

High Heat
is definitely a meathead movie, but it is a quality meathead movie. Olga Kurylenko and Don Johnson are perfectly cast as the restauranteur couple and they share some likable chemistry together. Dom and Mick are rather run-of-the-mill gangsters, but Kaitlin Doubleday is spectacularly unhinged as Mimi. Likewise, Chris Diamantopoulos counterbalances her as Tom, the bundle of nebbish neuroses she deserves. (When watching High Heat, always try to remember Diamantopoulos is the current voice of Mickey Mouse.)

Screenwriter James Pederson’s storyline is not exactly complex, but the body-count is impressive, as is Abramov’s creative use of various industrial kitchen appliances. It is more like a low budget
Mr. and Mrs. Smith than a Die Hard-in-a-restaurant, but Kurylenko and Johnson definitely came to play. She handles the action like a pro, while he delivers the swaggering attitude.

The premise is pretty familiar, but the characters and death scenes are notably colorful. Recommended for fans of Johnson and Kurylenko, who will not be disappointed,
High Heat opens Friday (12/16) in New York, at the Cinema Village.