In Gridlocked, David Hendrix (Dominic Purcell) gets the worst assignment ever: a community-service mandated ride along for party-happy movie star Brody Walker (Cody Hackman). Hendrix can’t get real work because of a bullet wound he’s still recovered from; Walker can’t get his life together, but his managers think that the ride along will generate public sympathy for their troubled star. It’s funny – and poking the bear of social media’s influence – until a team of soldiers attack the police training facility of the Strategic Response Team, leaving Hendrix and Walker to team up or die.
While Kevin Hart and Ice Cube might go for the more expected, predictable laughs in their ride along, Purcell’s no-nonsense delivery practiced throughout his career (see: Prison Break) makes odd couple work of Hackman’s slacker. These two are the central focus of the film’s moral heart — as director Allan Ungar’s film tries to show the immaturity of Hollywood fame and the way that the social media/public awareness would have us believe in the glorified lives of bullets and badges. But does the second half of the film, where the story goes from Ridealong to Assault on Precinct 13, undercut the social commentary?
Honestly, in a film that supposedly generated more real bullets on set than any action film in Canadian history, you probably won’t notice or care. Sure, there are parts doled out to the likes of Danny Glover, Vinnie Jones, and WWE star Trish Stratus, but the main heavy in the hail of bullets is Stephen Lang, who leads the mercenaries. It’s Lang who – in an unnecessarily brutal scene – tells an old dying woman that she should’ve taken the offered hotel room, moments before Jones’ Ryker fires a few more rounds into her bleeding body. It’s that kind of C-level action flick that even finds Glover’s Sully remarking, “I’m getting too old for this $%^&.”
While there might be some momentary depth to be had in comparing the character arcs of Hendrix and Walker, both of whom are seeking a form of redemption when this story begins, it’s ultimately about whether or not you think Purcell has the star power to carry a violent shootout to its intended, justifiable conclusion. Neither he or Lang are really cutting edge anymore (remember Avatar?) but they both have enough mojo to make this one an entertaining romp.