Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Here’s that ripoff of THE HARD WAY you didn’t know you wanted. Remember, the one with cigar store Indian Dominic Purcell (LEGENDS OF TOMORROW) replacing unpredictable, mercurial James Woods and who-the-hell-is-this-guy Cody Hackman, who worked with director Allan Ungar on an MMA action film, as the charming Michael J. Fox? Sure, that ripoff. And guess what? Stephen Lang (AVATAR) is the bad guy in both films! To quote a different Michael J. Fox movie, “Heavy.”

GRIDLOCKED isn’t exactly a comedy, but it has a sense of humor that occasionally clashes with nasty violence. I wouldn’t mind seeing this script performed by more charismatic stars than Purcell and Hackman, but they’re all we have. So the mismatched team of immature, irreverent bad-boy movie star Hackman (no relation to Gene) and gruff, humorless tough-guy cop Purcell — who, of course, aren’t getting along — pay a late-night visit to Purcell’s former colleagues at a SWAT facility forty miles from Manhattan (why a SWAT headquarters is way out in the cornfields, I have no idea). Bad timing, as the building is attacked by bad guys led by Lang (who is very good) and Vinnie Jones (EUROTRIP), ridiculously cast as a New York City cop.

With Hackman’s company putting up the production budget, GRIDLOCKED sticks pretty much indoors in a bland concrete warehouse somewhere in Toronto (some actors’ accents are distracting). What’s odd is there’s no reason for Hackman to be in it. After the first act, the film becomes a typical ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 knockoff with good cops fending off bad cops in a police station, and the relationship between Hackman and Purcell becomes superfluous. The action scenes are performed better than in most films of this ilk, and Lang is a strong antagonist. Hackman, who wears a continuously dopey look on his face, and Purcell — perpetually dyspeptic — aren’t exactly the Sunshine Boys, but thrown into the lively old-school action, GRIDLOCKED’ll do as a quickie Redbox rental. Believe it or not, one actor is named James A. Woods.

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