Hollywood’s action stars keep coming to New Mexico.
Martial arts actor Steven Seagal is the latest to arrive, taking down crime lords in the film “Force of Execution.”
The project started filming in and around the Albuquerque area this week, and it also stars Danny Trejo of “Sons of Anarchy” and Ving Rhames, best known for his computer-hacking role in the “Mission Impossible” movies.
Last year, Arnold Schwarzenegger filmed “The Last Stand” in Albuquerque and Belen, preceded by Christian Bale in “Terminator: Salvation” and a host of stars in “The Avengers” in 2011.
Currently, Seagal — known for mixing Buddhist philosophy with high-octane fight scenes — can be seen on the TV series “True Justice,” airing on Albuquerque-based ReelzChannel. That series is filmed in Canada.
“Force of Execution” — being filmed at I-25 Studios and Downtown — is about a crime lord torn between his legacy and his desire to get out of the life of crime that has built his empire. When a new player to the scene tries to use the anti-hero’s network to climb to power, the only friend the crime lord has is his assassin protégé.
“It’s very beneficial to have such a well-known actor doing a project in New Mexico,” said Nick Maniatis, director of the New Mexico Film Office. “With Seagal, this project brings light internationally to our crews, our facilities and our abilities to work projects. It shows that we can do the job and we can do it well.”
According to the film office, his newest production will employ at least 65 New Mexico crew members and 300 principal and background talent. It has a budget of about $10 million, according to the Internet Movie Database.
New Mexico native Steven Michael Quezada is also signed on to the film. Quezada is busy: he’s filming the final eight episodes of “Breaking Bad,” where he plays Agent Steven Gomez, and he is in the film “The Rambler,” which is
premiering at the Sundance Film Festival next week.
“Force of Execution” is directed and produced by Keoni Waxman. Seagal is also serving as a producer, as well as local producers Jim Burleson and Phillip B. Goldfine.
“It is great to be working at home with such an amazing group of talented people,” Burleson said.
Seagal rose to fame with action films such as “Under Siege,” “Hard to Kill” and “Above the Law.” He has starred in more than 40 movies.
“We produced ‘True Justice’ for our partner, Reelz,” Goldfine said. “And as Reelz CEO Stan Hubbard convinced us, New Mexico has been as welcoming as it has ever been to the TV and film industry with world class facilities and crew that can take on any project. We love New Mexico.”
If the movie is picked up by a distributor, it will be released in theaters. Otherwise it will air later this year on ReelzChannel, which has been expanding its offerings with original programming.
Rhames has also appeared in “Pulp Fiction” and “Con-Air.” Trejo has appeared in films such as “Grindhouse” and “Predators.”
Maniatis said he’s pleased to see film projects continue to come to New Mexico.
“We’re cautiously optimistic and things are looking good,” he said. “This industry changes day to day. This spring we will have more productions coming.”
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal