Dolph Ziggler makes his acting debut in WWE Studios’ latest film.
I’m a sucker for a good low budget action film. Give me a straight to DVD film starring a solid leading man, a decent villain, and a plot that get me from A to B, and I am one happy Snooty Usher. I am also a not so secret wrestling fan, so when it comes to WWE Studios’ recent output, I’m like a pig in muck. I enjoyed Vendetta recently, and this is the most recent in the “Action Six Pack” of films WWE Studios are making with Lionsgate.
Countdown has Dolph Ziggler as Ray Thompson, a narcotics cop who is sent a link to a video of a kidnapping, with a bomb strapped to a child. He is told to deliver the ransom to a WWE House Show (in a really, really terrible piece of placement that actually becomes the best bit of the film), but when Thompson shoots the criminal as he tries to escape, it becomes a race against time to save the child.
Kane plays his boss Lt Cronin, who has paired him up with former internal affairs officer and straight shooter Julia Baker (Katherine Isabelle), and together they have to investigate a case that takes them into the Russian immigrant community.
Low budget action films are tricky. With a horror film, you can hide your limited budgets with clever camera tricks that add to the atmosphere of the finished film. Action films need to deliver gun fights, car chases, and explosions – and if they look cheap then they can sink the film. There’s a big chunk of this film where Countdown feels like it is running down the clock (I’m such a hack!), with action scenes that aren’t great. We have such a convoluted way of getting Thompson back to the police station that it also seems like scenes are put together without any though of why they would be in that order. There are some pretty cool ideas though – Lt Cronin restraining Thompson is ridiculously done – but it doesn’t exactly flow smoothly.
There’s also some pretty ponderous dialogue – when asking why death threats against Thompson weren’t properly investigated, it’s explained that it would be too time consuming, a whole scene that is totally unnecessary, and it’s not the only one. The editing and continuity isn’t great as well, Ziggler’s hair noticeably changing from one shot to the next.
If he wanted to go full time, Dolph Ziggler could be a solid action star, but some of the more emotional scenes early on feel flat, and to be honest, unnecessary. I think Ray Thompson as a bad-ass-cop-on-the-edge-chasing-a-terrorist would have been a good enough film, without having to add a back story involving a lost child. We see him undercover in the first scene and although it’s a cliche, “cop who plays by his own rules” would have made for a better film. But, with the right film, I could see Ziggler making his way into my list of best wrestler performances when I revisit, an honour I’m sure all of the current WWE roster are aiming for.
There’s a similar issue with the film itself: less would have been more. I mentioned some unnecessary scenes, and there are plenty involving the Russian community that really, really aren’t needed. Having so many subtitled and scenes needing translators hurts the flow of the film, and hand cuffs Katherine Isabelle (whose character does most of the boring investigating) to having to play her role so straight it’s almost instantly forgettable. I’ve seen her be much more interesting in almost everything else she’s been in. Also – why have a character with information, and then have another character to translate? We’re not watching this film for a gritty insight into the Russian community! Just give me one character (dodgy accent if necessary) instead of two and spend that money somewhere else!
Countdown was originally called 6:42, which is the amount of time left after the House Show scene. That part of the film has such a different tone (and only features Ziggler for the most part) that it feels like something added in re-shoots. Although it’s certainly the highlight, it should be the highlight of a different film. I would have liked to have seen more of Kane and Ziggler together as well, Cronin is a good spin on the angry police lieutenant, as he has good reason to be angry!
Disappointingly, I didn’t enjoy this film. It has a few decent moments and a good beginning and ending, but really drags in the middle. Some tighter editing and it could have been really entertaining. I can’t really be more positive than that. I would recommend it to any wrestling fans for the Rusev cameo though, but you can probably switch off after that.
Until next time, stay gold, Ponyboy, stay gold. See you soonish.