Published Oct 20, 2015Those looking for an action-adventure at this year's Toronto After Dark that's reminiscent of the Die Hards and Lethal Weapons of yesteryear, look no further than the testosterone-fuelled shoot 'em up that is Canadian director Allan Ungar's Dominic Purcell-starring feature-length film, Gridlocked.
Purcell plays Dave Hendrix, a New York City police officer and former Strategic Response Team leader who is forced to work a more relaxed beat after suffering an injury in the line of duty. It's during this time that he's introduced to celebrity douchebag Brody Walker (Canadian actor Cody Hackman), a troubled superstar who is forced to ride along with Hendrix as some sort of strange Scared Straight program after getting in a public altercation with a local paparazzo.
What initially begins as a pretty standard film focusing on an unlikely pairing quickly switches gears and becomes the kind of straight-to-VHS bloodbath that has occupied Value Village shelves for close to a decade now. On a visit to a remote SRT outpost some 40 miles away from Manhattan, Hendrix, Walker and his old crew find themselves under attack by a shadowy figure (played by Stephen Lang) and his gang of mercenaries, who seem hell-bent on destroying Hendrix and getting access to a secret something hidden inside the facility.
It's a fairly silly, straightforward premise, and one that's been seen countless times before, not just in North American cinema but all over the world, but there's something charming about Gridlocked's ability to deliver the same old goods: ample amounts of one-liners, a classic action cameo (Danny Glover, who seriously looks too old for this shit) and barrages of bullets and chaos.
The film's one big flaw is that for a work so distinctly Canadian (what with its etalk cut scenes, Canuck-sounding leads and inclusion of home-grown wrestling icon Trish Stratus), Gridlocked positions itself as just another American action flick rather than fully leaning into the country it originated from. It feels like a bit of a copout, and that's partly what keeps this good Canadian action film from turning into a great one. (Hackybox Pictures)