By the numbers and with its fair share of familiar faces, Gridlocked (2015) is a serviceable action flick showing tonight at Toronto After Dark. In the style of The Expendables franchise, it’s a bullets and brawling bruiser with cheeseball jokes, some wincingly gruesome violence and probably $50 million less of aging testosterone-fueled ego. If that gets you excited, then take the safety off, rook. Let’s dance.
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break) is David Hendrix, a cop and former soldier growing weary of his deadening beat. Enter Cody Hackman’s Brody Walker, a young Hollywood action star grinding his gears in the combustible drug-addled phase of his career. On probation for assault, Brody’s lawyer (Saul Rubinek, in a small role) lands him a job shadowing Hendrix as part of his rehabilitation. Hendrix can barely tolerate the lightweight Brody, but he invites him along for a night of gun-training exercises with his old buddies on a whim. The old crew includes Danny Glover and Trish Stratus, because of course it does. But all hell breaks loose at the facility when a trio of men disguised as repair technicians infiltrate the place and set off an EMP. They coordinate with a tactical crew outside, led by Stephen Lang (Avatar among many others) and including Vinnie Jones (Snatch, X-Men: The Last Stand among many others), because of course it does. What they’re after is unclear. It certainly couldn’t be millions of dollars worth of bearer bonds (Die Hard glares from the corner of the room).
The action is workmanlike but effective, the gunplay intense and the fights well choreographed. The editing is a pinch overdone but nowhere near Michael Bay levels. Canadian director Allan Ungar knows how to keep the flow tight and the frequent scuffles and battles intelligible. The plot leans heavily on genre standards, the leaden humour, that pesky inside man, and the hero and villain with a shared compromised past. But Gridlocked is amiable when it wants to be and tense enough to hold your interest (though it could’ve used a firm hand in the editing suite, yanking maybe twenty minutes out of the nearly two hours’ running time). And it’s got a bonafide gross-out or two, which somehow always sells a movie like this. If you ever wondered how to recover from tear-gas, well, you don’t want to.
Gridlocked is showing at 9:30pm tonight, Tuesday, October 20th, at the ScotiaBank Theatre as part of the Toronto After Dark Film Festival. No word on where it will appear next, but with a cast and action like this, the film is guaranteed to turn up again. Stone cold killers always do. For more info about Gridlocked and the full schedule for all the remaining films at the festival, see here. No trailer for the film’s been released yet, but you can see a clip here.