Gridlocked is a crowd-pleasing action thriller in the tradition of Die Hard and Lethal Weapon. Former SWAT leader David Hendrix is down on his luck and has failed to receive medical clearance after taking a bullet on the job. Despite being highly trained and competent, his efforts have been reduced to routine tasks for the NYPD. As if things couldn't get any worse, he's been forced to babysit Brody Walker, a hard partying celebrity that's been sent on a mandatory ride along as part of his probation. Pampered and irritating, Walker is the last thing Hendrix needs. But all of that changes when a police training facility comes under attack by a team of ruthless mercenaries led by the mysterious Korver.
Now, Hendrix and Walker must band together with the remaining survivors to fight back and keep the mercenaries from overtaking the compound.... if they don't kill each other first.
I get why some filmmakers want to re-create their own childhood memories of watching films. I think most of us who are big film fans and filmmakers always want to pay respects to our favorite genres if we ever get the opportunity to make a fun movie. In particular, the early 90s action films were a hilarious sub-genre that spawned a ton of action stars and sequels that have become cult classics to this day. Most of these films were fairly violent, bloody, had a ton of one-liners, and a high body count. With all of the new directors out today and all of the remakes or reboots, you would hope that the filmmakers can pay tribute and respect to the original films without being too cheesy and of course doing something original in any of the aspects of their film or movie-making.
Canadian writer/director Allan Ungar, whose first big film was the MMA movie 'Tapped Out' is sure a big fan of those 90's action movies, because 'Gridlocked' is a collection of scenes and characters, taken straight from that era. 'Die Hard', 'Lethal Weapon', 'Commando', and even the more recent 'Expendables' can be seen in 'Gridlocked' and not in that fun "wink-wink" sort of way either. You can obviously tell Ungar is a big fan of these earlier films, but his execution here is more of just a rip-off without any original content or that special something that makes the film tick. For a big action film such as this one, everything seems underwhelming.
Actually, 'Gridlocked' holds the record for most gun fire in a Canadian movie, but you'd really never know it, because the film is forgettable and we've seen the same scenes in other films that were done a bit better. In fact, there is a 1991 film called 'The Hard Way', starring James Woods, Michael J. Fox, and Stephen Lang (who also stars in this film), which is all entirely too similar to 'Gridlocked' from the characters to the plot. You could say it's a loose remake. 'Gridlocked' follows David Hendrix (Dominic Purcell), who is the leader of the NYPD Swat Team, but is on suspension from the real tough work. Hendrix is quiet and keeps his anger bottled up. He is basically monotone. He is forced to take a rude and wealthy famous actor named Brody for a ride along as part of Brody's community service for fighting reporters. This is similar to 'The Hard Way'.
Hendrix brings Brody to a warehouse where his Swat buddies are, only to be attacked by Stephen Lang, who is the villain as well in 'The Hard Way'. What follows are some intense shoot outs, gun play, and explosions. Add to the cast Vinnie Jones, former WWE Superstar Trish Stratus, and a cameo from Danny Glover. There is even an actor named James Woods in the film, but it isn't that one you're thinking of. Most of the moments of the film are comprised of scenes you've seen in the above mentioned movies, but all done on a much lesser level.
Purcell doesn't really deliver a dynamic character here, and his buddy he escorts around isn't all that likable either, making for an awkward and less than thrilling duo. I would have hoped that Danny Glover would have stole the show here, but his screen time is super small and he delivers a line he's said many times before, and it's just sad. Stephen Lang is of course great, as he always is, but I feel like he will forever be remembered now as the bad guy in 'Avatar'. The action scenes and stunt work are quite good though, but due to the ridiculous dialogue and character interactions, the movie just becomes silly and takes you out of the real dramatic and action packed moments. In the end, 'Gridlocked' is a copy of a copy of a copy.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Gridlocked' comes with a 25GB Blu-ray Disc from Magnolia Entertainment and is Region A Locked. The disc is housed in an eco-friendly hard, blue plastic case with zero insert or digital download code. There is a cardboard sleeve here too.
'Gridlocked' comes with a 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.39:1 aspect ratio. There isn't too much to get excited about with this video presentation, since the bulk of the film takes place in darker locations without a lot of bright and bold colors, but this transfer from Magnolia does the job well enough. It looks like the movie was filmed with Red digital cameras, which gives the overall picture that digital palette. The detail is fairly sharp and vivid throughout, even in darker sequences.
The grayish facial hair on Stephen Lang stand out nicely and other wrinkles, ages pots, and imperfections in tattoos look sharp as well. Wider shots never go soft either. Colors again aren't bright and bold here, and most of the film has a blueish or yellow tint to it, which hinders the overall tone of the film. It's a bleak movie, visually. Black levels are deep and inky and the flesh tones are natural. Compression issues are non-existent, with the exception of some minor banding throughout. This video presentation won't win any awards or make you say, "Wow", but it gets the job done.
This release comes with a lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and for the mostly cheesy action film that it is, this audio soundscape also does the job nicely, if not a tiny bit underwhelming. All of the usual audio action genre tropes are here, including explosions, thuds, and a ton of gun fire. it just never really kicks into high gear at any single moment. Sound effects pack a decent enough punch with gun shots that fly all over the place and come from all speakers. You really are in the middle of a few gun battles here.
There is some great directionality with the explosions and gun shots. The score, which emulates the early 90's action films is fun to hear and adds to each scene, but isn't too memorable. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to understand, and free of pops, cracks, hiss, and high shrills. The bass does a decent job, but could have been a little fuller to make a bigger impact. Still, this is a decent audio presentation.
Kicking It Old School: The Making of 'Gridlocked' (HD 16, Mins.) - The cast and crew discuss their characters, shooting the film, and their inspirations from the 90's action movies.
Deleted Scenes (HD, 12 Mins.) - There are eight scenes in total, which were added out for pacing and time. There is an extra gun battle though that is worth watching.
Blooper Reel (HD, 6 Mins.) - Here is a standard, yet funny montage of flubbed lines, missed cues, and laughter on the set.
Inside the Action (HD, 7 Mins.) - The cast and crew talk about the stunts in the film and how hard they trained for the fight scenes.
Trailers (HD, 5 Mins.) - A couple of trailers for other Magnolia films.
'Gridlocked' has a few million bullets flying around from start to finish, and there are plenty of dead bodies to add to your death count list. There are some fun actors here, but nobody is really memorable and the plot is as thin as a piece of paper. This is a classic case of a fan filmmaker who wanted to pay homage to their favorite childhood movies and memories, but failed to bring something original to the table. If you want a mindless, low-budget pop-corn action flick that you've seen before, I guess this could be your movie. Video and audio presentations are decent enough and the extras are mildly fun, if you liked the film. This is a rental at best.