“This should be amazing.”
That’s what I say a lot of the time when a WWE Studios movie is announced. Like, just today, they announced a movie starring Seth Rollins, Wesley Snipes, and Anne Heche about an evil AI and I’m like, yeah! That sounds great! But it only “sounds” great. It probably won’t come close to hitting its potential.
That’s the problem with WWE Studios pieces. On paper, they sound godly in being over-the-top and cheesy with the possibility of stumbling onto outright brilliance. I was so pumped when I heard that Dean Ambrose was going to star in a movie where he fought corrupt cops. In the end, we got something that was…okay, I guess. I never need to see it again, but it was competent enough.
I wasn’t too into watching Countdown until seeing the trailer because despite being only a minute long, it made the movie seem completely bonkers. John Stockwell’s little film was about a terrorist situation happening in at a WWE event with Dolph Ziggler playing a police detective out to stop it. Plus Rusev showed up, as Rusev, and pointed a gun at Ziggler until getting superkicked.
Sadly, as the saying goes, a trailer is usually the movie the person editing it wants to see and not what the movie actually is. The WWE stuff is surely the highlight and is the part where it goes into “so bad it’s good” mode, but it’s only about ten minutes of the actual movie. While they do show brief shots of New Day, Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, and Brock Lesnar, they’re nothing but background outside of the very brief Rusev cameo.
Before you ask, no, WWE wrestlers Dolph Ziggler and Kane never show up to interact with their action cop movie selves.
So what is Countdown actually about? Countdown is about Ray Fitzpatrick (Nick Nemeth/Dolph Ziggler), a renegade cop who gets results and has a huge axe to grind with the police force in general. For getting results via loose cannoning, he gets suspended by Lt. Julia Baker (Katharine Isabelle) while a reluctant Lt. Cronin (Glenn Jacobs/Kane) watches on. Then he’s called back in because some guy that’s been stalking Ray and sending him ignored threats in the mail for the past year has kidnapped a little boy and strapped a bomb to him. He wants $2 million and change within six hours or the kid explodes.
Ray and Julia end up working together with Julia – who is so by-the-book it hurts – having to turn a blind eye to Ray’s reckless behavior. He’s a suspended loose cannon cop, but damn it, they need results.
Now, what does make the movie interesting is how it tries to be different in terms of pacing. It actually turns it from being otherwise mediocre to outright bad, but it is interesting nonetheless. I really don’t want to get too deep into spoilers, but without getting into the details, much of the movie is wrapped up about twenty minutes in. Basically, the action cop movie climax happens really early on and we have an hour of epilogue to pad out the rest of the movie.
It’s actually fascinating in a way because you see the most basic action movie tropes and they’re rendered dramatically pointless. Parts of the movie talks about the death of Ray’s son and while it should feel important and heartbreaking, it never truly fits with the story being told. We find out the connection between Ray and the main villain and it’s completely trivial because of the movie’s narrative weirdness.
In terms of performances, Ziggler’s better than I expected. His banter is mostly decent and he definitely reads scripted action movie dialogue better than he does scripted wrestling promos. He just sucks at any scene that’s supposed to be emotional, though he chooses to remain understated rather than embarrass himself. Katharine Isabelle is pretty much in the middle outside of one scene midway through where she actually shows some refreshing aggression and seems like she actually cares about what’s going on. Then there’s Kane, who is a delight for the few times we see him. He’s around in the beginning and the end, but missing for a huge chunk of the film. It’s too bad, since he’s a lot of fun.
There is absolutely nothing memorable about any of the action. The most I can even recall right now is how a car blows up while in motion, but the explosion shot has it as completely still. Otherwise, it’s mostly boring, flat, and forgettable.
The R-rating is rather pointless. Outside of some blood splatter from head shots, the only thing earning the movie the rating is the occasional use of f-bombs. Most of which are subtitled f-bombs. Even the raunchiness is flat.
The best description of the soundtrack is obnoxious. Everything needs to be dialed back to meet the tone of what’s supposed to be conveyed. Lt. Baker walking into the police department doesn’t need the same kind of music you’d hear from Vin Diesel showing up in a sweet sports car, nor does Ray staring at old photos of his family need a Dido knockoff track playing over it. It’s almost impressive when the music actually fits with what’s going on.
Now, if you want something in this movie to laugh at, by all means, check out the WWE section. The editing sticks out. As a tense scene is going on, the footage would cut back and forth to the beginning of a triple threat match between the New Day, the Ascension, and the Lucha Dragons. The New Day make their entrance like normal. Then the Ascension’s music plays and it takes them FOREVER to reach the ring with all the various shots we see. Finally, the Lucha Dragons theme starts playing and the Lucha Dragons are immediately in the ring while the Ascension have yet to even make it that far! They’re still on the outside!
A minute or two of screentime later, Brock Lesnar makes his entrance for a separate match. In fact, the footage suddenly changes to shots from a Royal Rumble PPV. Go figure.
It’s a shame we didn’t get the movie suggested by the trailer because not only was “WWE meets Sudden Death” silly enough to work, but it basically represents the only part of this movie that’s worth checking out. Otherwise, if you want to see a wrestler play a cop in a B-movie, just check out 12 Rounds 3: Lockdown.
Gavin Jasper should probably stop watching WWE Studios releases, but the upcoming “wrestlers reimagined as surfing penguins” film is too ripe not to bite into. Follow him on Twitter!