Combustible Celluloid
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With: Patrick Muldoon, Bruce Willis, Ava Paloma, Matthew Marsden, Michael DeVorzon, Kelcey Rose, Chris Cleveland, Douglas S. Matthews, Kelly Lynn Reiter, Jamal Trulove, Jared Bankens, Billy Jack Harlow, Lorenzo Antonucci, Adam Huel Potter, Francis Cronin, Sam Jordan
Written by: Cam Cannon, Jared Cohn
Directed by: Jared Cohn
MPAA Rating: R for violence, language throughout and some drug use
Running Time: 97
Date: 12/03/2021

Deadlock (2021)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Die Bored

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Here's yet another Die Hard knockoff — with Bruce Willis in the villain role this time — that does just about everything wrong, from weird motivations to poor use of space and an irksome music score.

Mack Karr (Patrick Muldoon), an ex-Army Ranger, reports for work as a welder at the Fitzgerald Hydraulic Dam in Georgia. A busload of teens arrive for a field trip, and not long after, a gang of domestic terrorists, led by Ron Whitlock (Bruce Willis), break into the facility and hold everyone hostage, everyone except for Mack, who was hanging from a hidden girder.

Ron begins opening the floodgates, intending to drown the entire county, if he doesn't get what he wants: an explanation from two police officers about the death of his son. Mack soon figures out what's going on and springs into action, first hoping to free the teens and a deathly ill man, as well as his ex, Sophia (Ava Paloma). Can Mack save the day?

One thing Deadlock does okay is its scruffy hero with the silly name; he's played by Muldoon with a blast of energy and a cheeky attitude. The script even copies an idea from Die Hard with a Vengeance: that the hero is doing all his fighting and saving the town with a crushing hangover. Unfortunately, rather than establishing the space so that we know where everything is in relation to everything else, the movie has Mack running around pretty much at random, climbing up to catwalks, crawling down to sub-basements, and even running across an open field for some reason.

We never know where he is or what exactly he's doing. Conversely, Deadlock does explain what the villain's motivation is, and it's bizarre. He's holding hostages and threatening to drown the town because he wants to talk to the two cops who were involved with the death of his son and the imprisonment of his other son. Huh?

Willis gives another low-energy performance, looking vaguely annoyed all the time, and mostly in an immobile sitting position. It all becomes a dull waiting game, accompanied by a repetitive, obtrusive score, hoping that Mack will eventually find the right door and put a stop to all of this. It can't come soon enough.

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