Written by: Traves Bezenar
Let's preface this review by acknowledging my preconceptions. As far as I’m concerned WWE isn’t exactly known for their ability to tell a compelling and coherent story. Over the last ten years wrestling fans have been displeased with how the company has chosen to tell stories on their flagship program “RAW” and sadly this movie suffers from a lot of the same problems.
To make things simpler we’ll start at the beginning. The first scene of the movie is good and probably the best thing about the movie as a whole. Dolph Ziggler, who plays an undercover cop is forced to shoot his partner in the chest to avoid blowing his cover. The movies’ crew did a good job of making the moment feel tense and dangerous. My only gripe with it would be that it’s the same basic scene we’ve seen a million times already from a million other movies.
Things went downhill fast after that initial burst of excitement. I don’t know if it was the terrible (fake) Russian accent from the antagonist or the general awkwardness of the dialogue, but the next scene just turned me off. Unfortunately the movie never really pulled me back into its world. There was never a point after the initial scene where I felt completely immersed in the story with the main cause being the acting. Dolph Ziggler and Kane from the WWE both star in this cop drama but neither of them should have. Dolph is slightly more competent on screen than “The Big Red Machine” but not by much or nearly enough. When you watch someone like Tom Hanks or any high caliber actor it doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) feel like their reading someone else’s words. This movie suffers from the exact opposite. Every line of dialogue feels forced and uncomfortable especially when the two WWE stars have to interact with each other.
The next big issue with the film is it’s plot. The premise is simple enough; a lone wolf cop runs foul of a foreign gangsters and suffers their vengeance. Somehow this basic story gets lost in a sea of unnecessary plot points and strange twists that add little to the overall narrative. Without giving too much of the story away Dolph’s motivation for taking on these thugs isn’t revealed until halfway through the film and the villain's intentions for this personal vendetta come even later (last 10 minutes or so). Outside of that, Dolph and his female partner encounter dozens of criminals that the either murder in cold blood or let off scot-free. Then there is the movies final act which makes even less sense than the rest of the film. The main villain is never apprehended or even appears on screen. But the worst offender in the plot department is WWE trying to shoehorn in its wrestlers and their kayfabe storylines into the movie. If you didn’t like the Rusev, Lana, and Dolph love angle the first time prepare to see it again! But hey, at least this time it only lasts a few seconds.
The final nail in this movies coffin is the camera work. Good lord it’s bad. Is it too much to ask for for WWE Studios to leave out the Kevin Dunn shaky cam nonsense that has plagued Monday Night RAW for so long? I guess the answer is yes because it’s everywhere in this film. From start to finish the movie has too many quick cuts, too many odd pointless shots, and an odd grainy texture that makes it look like a movie shot in the early nineties.
Now let's talk about the one thing “Countdown” does right, the action. The hand to hand fighting in this movie is great. Ziggler does a great job of making his physicality realistic. We even get to see him bust out one of his WWE finishing moves (The Super Kick) at one point in the film. The chase scenes and gunplay are also top notch. If you’re a fan of that sort of thing you might just love this movie but it won’t be enough to save this film for most.
Overall this movie is just plain bad. It fails on almost every level it can. The story is bad, the acting is bad, and the cinematography is bad. The really sad thing is that this movie could have been good. WWE has made good movies in the past like “12 Rounds 3”, “See No Evil”, and “Oculos” to name just a few. Somewhere along the line this movie just lost sight of story it was trying to tell and it showed. I would not recommend it to anyone.