By: Addison Wylie
I don’t consider it a good sign when a film makes you consider similar movies of its kind that you’ve given bad reviews to. Take Allan Ungar’s Gridlocked. I not only didn’t like it, but it made me wonder if I was too harsh on other action copycats like Olympus Has Fallen. However, I’m not going back on my word. Olympus Has Fallen is as much of a Die Hard ripoff as Gridlocked is a retread of stale shoot ’em ups.
Gridlocked starts as a buddy film that gives audiences a typical pairing of a stiff personality and a loud fish-out-of-water. After finding himself in a controversial situation, Hollywood actor Brody Walker (played by Cody Hackman) has to voluntarily serve time by the side of officer David Hendrix (played by The Flash’s Dominic Purcell). As Hendrix is introducing Brody to fellow officers at a training facility, mercenaries hijack the building with intentions to wipe out everyone from within.
David and Brody are two characters whom never really get along. Then again, this could be because Hackman and Purcell don’t have any on-screen chemistry because both actors are given the task of carrying too much weight. Hackman has to constantly find ways to break up the tension using the screenplay’s weak comic relief, while Purcell is assigned to fill the film’s entertainment quota. Hackman ends up buckling under impossible odds, and Purcell – convincing as an ultimate bad ass – looks as if he’s always looking for other equally competent powerhouses to play with him. This is an actor who would work well alongside the Expendables instead of cardboard sidekicks played by Immortals’ Steve Byers and professional wrestler Trish Stratus.
Allan Ungar (who co-wrote Gridlocked with Rob Robol) treats this film as an outdoor paintball match. Everything is filmed down long, generic corridors with lots of obstructions for the actors to hide behind, and there’s nothing special about the gunplay either. The characterization between good and evil is basically non-existent because Ungar has asked his cast to play towards their physicality or past work – Stephen Lang and Vinnie Jones are especially on autopilot.
At two hours, Gridlocked spins its wheels and bores the audience. Not even Danny Glover’s gratuitous role as a loyal security guard evokes any positive response. Unsurprisingly, Glover looks towards his team in despair and utters, “I’m getting too old for this shit.” You and me both, buddy.
Gridlocked screens at Toronto After Dark on:
Tuesday, October 20 at 9:30 p.m. @ Scotiabank Theatre [SOLD OUT]
For more information on the festival, visit the official TAD webpage here.
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