When Vince McMahon first dreamed up the idea to turn his WWE empire into a movie studio, the first question I had was "How many crappy ways is he going to come up with to set each story in a wrestling arena"? With the exception of some animated Scooby-Doo movies WWE Studios has avoided the corniness that would come with having wrestlers play themselves. Until now, that is, in the weirdest WWE Studios action flick yet, Countdown, which stars Dolph Ziggler and Kane as cops infiltrating a wrestling show to stop random generic badguy #1000. In terms of plot it's as by-the-numbers as any of these movies have been, but the details are where it gets strange.
Ziggler, who those that follow me at DailyDDT will know, is a WWE superstar that has long since worn out his welcome in my eyes. Claiming to be the guy who "steals the show", he's actually the guy who grinds it to a screeching halt with his charisma-free displays. Unfortunately, he doesn't inspire much in Countdown, either, playing bad boy cop Ray Fitzpatrick. We know he's a bad boy because of his messy hair, five o'clock shadow, and the fact that he shoots his own partner so as not to blow their cover. The act netted him a major gun dealer, but it also put him on the radar of Lt. Julia Baker (Katherine Isabelle, serviceable at best) of Internal Affairs, who suspends him immediately. Meanwhile longtime WWE superstar Kane aka "The Big Red Machine" aka the "Chief of Operations" stands around like a bump on a log as Lt. Cronin.
Mere moments after stomping out of the police headquarters like a wannabe Mel Gibson, Ray is called back in because some guy with a grudge against him has strapped a bomb to a kidnapped child. With only six hours until it explodes, it's up to the rebellious Ray to defy orders and save the day. Why the cops would order him NOT to save the kid doesn't make any sense, but that's what we're left to contemplate. He ends up working alongside Julia like some makeshift mixed tag team, but this team is totally oil 'n water like Team Hell No, which Kane would know something about. The odd couple paring of Ray and Julia has no spark at all, though.
Here's where things get more ridiculous than usual for a WWE Studios film. For some reason the investigation leads them to a WWE live event, and it must be a sucky one because The Ascension are there. So are the New Day, the Lucha Dragons, and more, but what's crazy is when Rusev, totally playing himself, shoulderblocks the snot out of Ray while he's chasing a suspect backstage. So wait, what now? Ziggler, as a non-wrestler character, is getting harrassed by WWE cameos? How does that logic work? What alternate space reality is this? Of course, Ziggler manages to pull off some of his signature wrestling manuevers because fans need that or something, and Rusev's gal Lana even puts him over by saying "Now THAT is a real man". It's the best push Ziggler's received in months.
What's surprising is how little action there is. There's less physicality than the opening 20-minutes of Monday Night Raw, and what there is can only be described as mediocre. John Stockwell used to be a competent director, but his talents seem to only be in ocean-based flicks like Blue Crush and Into the Blue. He doesn't get much help from Ziggler, who should be better at reading scripted material considering that's his job every single week. And yet he's fairly dull here, and not even his trademark helps. As a part-time stand-up comedian, Ziggler should be able to bring a few laughs to the table, but the screenplay by Richard Wenk (who wrote Denzel Washington's The Equalizer) is dry and humorless, except when it's unintentionally funny. A brawl between Ray and Cronin is intriguing only because you keep waiting for Kane to hit a tombstone piledriver then make flames shoot out of the floor. It doesn't happen, sadly, because that would be the only thing about Countdown worth remembering.
Rating: 1 out of 5