Seize Them (2024)

Seize Them! Review

Seize Them

Seize Them! is a comedy starring Aimee Lou Wood and Nicola Coughlan, but no one would be able to keep their head after talking this much rubbish for an hour and a half.

Seize Them!, directed by Curtis Vowell, was shown early as part of a new BFI (British Film Institute) and National Lottery funded national scheme celebrating British films in independent cinemas. The scheme Escapes awards a free cinema ticket once a month to see an upcoming release in a local cinema across the UK, with its main objective being to celebrate cinema and discover independent venues.

There is so much in Seize Them! that should appeal to audiences: strong performances from Aimee Lou Wood and Nicola Coughlan alongside an ensemble cast of Best of British talent such as Nick Frost, Jessica Hynes, James Acaster and Lolly Adefope; however, the script is unforgivable. It should have been taken out back and shot.

It instantly sets up that Humble Joan (Coughlan), a peasant, has led a revolution against Queen Dagan (Wood) who flees to hide amongst her kingdom in fear of execution. But when Dagan hears rumours of a way to turn the tide against gunpowder-using Joan, she becomes consumed with retaking the throne.

Seize Them! tries to walk a tightrope between audience and tone but its unsteady performance suggests it doesn’t know either very well. Nowhere is this more apparent than its opening sequence which will likely strongly remind audiences of Horrible Histories: Rotten Romans (2019).

In Horrible Histories Emperor Nero begrudgingly speaks to his subordinates and moves pieces on a battle map like he’s playing with toys. Similarly ignorant Dagan dictates orders with battle pieces whilst her advisor Leofwine (Hynes) warns against ill-advised decisions. In an identical delivery Seize Them! knowingly nods to Horrible Histories saying it’ll take the baton and run with it. Except, in this race, it falls over, shoelaces tied together, face plants into a cow pat. Worse still, it expects you to laugh.

Luckily the film leans heavily on its talented ensemble to soften the blow of its dire delivery. One of these may be doing more heavy lifting for the film’s success than he initially considered. James Acaster broke into Hollywood a few years prior with Cinderella (2021) starring Camilla Cabello and James Corden whilst Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024) entered cinemas before Seize Them! and will likely outlive it. The success of Acaster’s national prominence and international appeal may be enough for many to seek out Seize Them!, even if his scene is fleeting. Thankfully his delivery is perfectly on-brand and reminds you of his comic talent enough that you can mentally recall his stand-up during the film’s lulls.

Likewise Nicola Coughlan will be returning to Bridgerton later this year and launched new TV show Big Mood (2024) alongside Lydia West under Camilla Whitehill’s incredible penmanship last week tackling the millennial experience with mental health; also with a guest-star slot for Doctor Who 2024 Christmas special casting directors Jessica Mescall and Kelly Valentine Henry are clearly clued in to who they’re playing to here.

The casting team had evidence that they needed the film’s talent to have an immediacy about them, both to attract attention in the first place and then to follow through with its subsequent financial success. Today they star in Seize Them!; tomorrow their names are household regulars right across Britain.

It would be wrong to emphasize so much of the strength of the cast at the expense of the film’s story, its comedy, or its celebration of British independent filmmaking. But when every single scene feels more like a series of sketches stitched together rather than a stringing together of scenes that amount to a complete narrative, the only sequences that stick in my mind are those which astonish me into silence. They stick not because they were good but because they weren’t.

One sketch has Nick Frost, as comedy sidekick Bobik, listing all the ways one can defecate (but with added profanity), his job being to shovel all the faeces in the land. It is high-brow for this movie — and for Bobik himself who is a developed character with a life’s mission to shovel waste. If you didn’t get it there, don’t worry; later on Queen Dagan will muddle her way through turds too.

Another sketch has him speaking to Felix the pot merchant (Acaster) where Bobik cannot lie and therefore struggles to hold conversation for fear that Felix may be aligned with new ruler Joan. These conversational pitfalls were fun because Bobik was essentially Kryten from Red Dwarf but done properly, though I would have liked them even more if they’d developed this one-beat joke into something with as much quotability as smeghead. Given however few sparks fly throughout whole comedies like this one, any spark is worth noting down.

Perhaps part of why most jokes fell flat continuously could have been due to script muddling audience demographic mentioned before it crossed my mind while watching what that may have been if any at all but there could have been scope for lowering rating had they toned down language and tweaked one sequence in final act without losing anything from film itself better positioning itself towards intended audience instead of generalising everyone as being aged 15 and over which only serves to insult intelligence under-stimulate with mindless toilet humour those young adults who come under this bracket already feeling hard done by because nobody takes them seriously anyway not even filmmakers who try pandering down their level.

Seize Them! needed reworking before it got to the screen. While there is evident enjoyment from its cast especially Woods and Adefope and it does celebrate independent British filmmaking; for people like me who wonder whether the film was made for us suggests that there should have been more wit less shit during pre-production stages.

Watch Seize Them! For Free On Gomovies.

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