Gridlocked feels like a remix of the 1991 Michael J. Fox film The Hard Way, sans the romance and the laughs. The film also lacks James Woods, but has Dominic Purcell as the millennial version of Woods and even has Steven Lang as the bad guy. Lang was the villain in The Hard Way as well.
There are elements of Assault on Precinct 13 without the Carpenter touch and the film even seems to borrow a bit from Sabotage. Gridlocked has Cody Hackman as Hollywood star Brody Walker; a former child actor who, despite being a success at the box-office, has issues. One these problems includes assaulting a member of the paparazzi.
To keep from doing jail time, Walker is assigned to Purcell’s character, David Hendrix, a cop recovering from being shot on duty. Stephen Lang is Korver, an old colleague of Hendrix’ who is after some bearer bonds in an evidence locker. Vinnie Jones and Danny Glover have small roles in the film, with Jones on team Korver and Glover as a cop.
(There is a self referential moment where Glover’s character sighs and says he is “Too old for this sh*t.” Something his character in the Lethal Weapon franchise was always saying.)
While the film does resemble the 1991 Fox/Woods vehicle, in this version, Hendrix is not trying to get rid of Walker. The cop opts to take the Hollywood bad boy under his wing instead. Hendrix takes the star to the training facility, a ‘la “Sabotage,” and Lang’s people, after disabling the building, attempt to overtake it.
There is plenty of action. Gunfights and hand to hand combat are the order of the day and the good guys have a mole on their side who is working for Korver. As Lang’s character repeatedly tries to enter the building, Hendrix and his small team fight them off. Eventually the bad guys get in and the fighting gets up close and personal.
As Gridlocked moves from a siege to an invasion, Hendrix has more problems. He has a mole on his team, and a personal connection with the bad guys who want in.
Aussie actor Purcell does a good job as the injured action hero and Hackman is convincing as the irksome Hollywood star. Lang really does give the best ”bad guy” in the business and Glover is splendid in his cameo as the cop nearing retirement.
On a sidenote, there is a practical effect later in the film where one of the character’s is shot through the face. Uncomfortable to look at, it looks real and not a little bit freaky.
Directed and co-written by Allan Ungar (his second feature length film) Gridlocked flows well and does not drag. The action may feel a bit formulaic and the plot does seem to be influenced by the above mentioned films. However, the cast keep things interesting and Purcell proves that he is more than a one trick pony.
Vinne Jones has little to do other than to look menacing though later on he does fight Purcell’s character. (In terms of cameos, the excellent Saul Rubinek does a splendid turn as Walker’s agent.)
At just under two hours the film moves along at a crisp clip and does not drag at all. While the film is more “action” than acting, it will never be mistaken for Shakespeare, Gridlocked does entertain.
This is a 3.5 star film. Nothing to write home about but good enough to get lost in for an extended period of time. It is streaming on Netflix at the moment. Pop up some corn and pour some fizzy and see what you think.