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REVIEW: Countdown (2016) – ManlyMovie

REVIEW: Countdown (2016)

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Here’s a 90 minute quicksand pit of bush league boredom.  And if you want my advice you should ignore this movie, even those of you out there who still regularly watch WWE.  WWE Studios regularly pumps out mediocre at best movies (if we want to be generous), often distributed by the likes of Lions Gate’s VOD division.  They often make movies where you expect ‘Asylum’ level stuff, but are surprised to find them inoffensively forgettable.  Often, their simple action scenes make up for their horrific screenplays.  This one fails even by WWE standards, a real shitty attempt at being a taut ‘thriller’.

In the film grizzled cop Dolph Ziggler summons his inner John McClane as he’s on the trail of a bargain basement Simon Gruber who has rigged a boy up with explosives, vowing to kill him unless someone pays up some money.  Katherine Isabelle joins Ziggler in the hunt, despite having an initial role of keeping a professional eye on Ziggler and his ‘unorthodox’ methods.  When the kidnapper is taken out, they find that the child is still missing and rigged with a bomb on a timer, they must find him, fast.  Of course, the villains are Russian, because that’s what you’d expect from a bottom feeding movie like this trying to stay topical.  They even pull some shots on Vladimir Putin… I was like, really?  We’re going there?  Anyway, as the movie progresses, Ziggler goes around cracking some heads to find some leads and beat that clock.

Like I usually say with VOD movies, you often find that movies like this have a better shot at entertaining if they know their limitations.  This movie aspires to be a grand thriller, yet no-one picked it up, another episode of a movie getting ideas above its station.  The tropes are packed in like sardines in a can, the grizzled cop who lost his son, the swerve, the cynical female sidekick who is slowly won around.  Take your pick.

The best thing about the movie is a set piece near the beginning.  Ziggler is hunting the madman at a wrestling event.  The is the most expensive and ‘exciting’ event in the movie, it appears WWE pulled its resources and filmed this live at WWE Raw or a house show, with action in the locker room (plenty of cameos, but only of modern PG era jobber wrestlers) culminating on a catwalk above a thronging and active crowd.  You can’t buy or can rarely create this type of atmosphere in a movie.  So kudos to them on that.

Unfortunately the rest of the movie sees Ziggler and Isabelle search abandoned warehouses and podunk side streets, with the occasional tepid shaking camera action scene doing little to ease the monotony.  I mean, it’s one of those movies where you can tell which of the cars in the 20mph chase is going because it’s the one that looks like it cost $340.  Bullets fired at a range of three feet also disappear into the ether, at least that’s the only explanation I can think of for people shooting at each other at that range without any mortal wounds to show for it.

I also need to point out that Isabelle is at once and until the end an annoying presence on my screen.  She’s trying far too hard to be that ‘tough chick’ but the effort simply comes across as someone who walks around like an emotionless hard on, reeking of effort and ‘take me seriously I’m a feminist’ (she’s one in real life and that unhappy trait typical to them shows here) stamped on her forehead.  Had she cracked a smile, I think she may have required legit medical attention for her face.  Ziggler on the other hand transitions reasonably well from WWE promos to acting, insofar as his performance is pretty anonymous.  Or to be generous again, not bad.

So this movie is pretty trashy, cheap and depressing.  Don’t go there.  Oh and for those wondering why I don’t mention Glenn ‘Kane’ Jacobs, it’s because his role is so insignificant as to not merit a mention, other than the fact that he probably filmed his scenes in about an hour or two.  Yet they put him on the cover…

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