TAD review: Gridlocked gets stuck in traffic

Robbing a police evidence locker is not a new premise. It goes back at least as far as John Wayne’s McQ in 1974. Laying siege to a police station is also nothing new. John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, for example, which was itself inspired by the John Wayne western Rio Bravo. And pairing a narcissistic movie star with an egotistical cop has also been done, as in John Badham’s The Hard Way, which handcuffed Michael J. Fox to James Woods. But I don’t think I’ve seen a movie that mashes all those premises together. Until now.

Gridlocked, from co-writer and director Allan Ungar, stars Dominic Percell (Prison Break) as your standard issue hardnosed cop, who is forced to partner with Cody Hackman’s standard issue Hollywood bad boy thanks to a court-ordered ride-along. After busting drug dealers the two end up in a police bunker that’s headquarters of the Strategic Response Team (think SWAT on steroids) hanging out with Danny Glover’s way-too-old-for-this-shit cop and Trish Stratus’s SRT ball-buster. Then Stephen Lang’s mercenary squad come knocking.

Now, Gridlocked is C-grade VOD/DVD garbage. There’s not an original moment in the whole thing, the shootouts are staged about as well as your average A-Team episode, and the fistfights are mediocre (strangely, Hackman, whose IMDb page says he’s a five-time world karate champion, is never given a chance to showcase his martial skills), the tone is uneven and the jokes fall flat. It’s the kind of action movie where the heroes make wisecracks after killing a bad guy and the final scene has them smiling and laughing even as they clutch their bullet-riddled shoulders. Yet I couldn’t stop watching. I can’t explain why. I guess, as the title suggests, it was like being stuck in traffic and couldn’t look away. On the upside, it did serve as a mindless and utterly predictable palate-cleanser after all the horror movies I’ve watched the last few days. It premieres at Toronto After Dark on Tuesday night.