Imagine a movie that combines the worst aspects of “Trainspotting,” “Leaving Las Vegas” and a “Dateline” expose.
Throw in a deceased rapper, and you’ve got “Gridlock’d.”
“Gridlock’d” attempts to tell the story of two friends, Spoon (Tupac Shakur) and Stretch (Tim Roth) who, only after Spoon’s girlfriend overdoses and is in critical condition, decide to kick their drug habits.
The story, which begins on New Year’s Eve and ends the next night, is told very incoherently, and often feels like a documentary without a point.
The slice-of-life approach attempts to be a lot like “Leaving Las Vegas,” and it probably could’ve been, but director Vondie Curtis Hall concentrated too much on action outside the main storyline. Whenever the audience is about to feel true sympathy for a character, the movie throws in a twist that almost resembles a plot, and the effect is lost.
Actually, it seems that Spoon and Stretch are always running from someone. They are seen at a crime scene after a murder, and later get on the bad side of a gun-toting drug lord. The chase scenes are actually quite a bit like those in “Trainspotting,” a movie I hated.
When they aren’t feeling sorry for each other or running from someone, the two are trying to get into detox. Over and over, they are redirected, told off, or put off by government workers. Not only does this have little to do with the film, but a forceful monologue from one of the government workers muddles the issue of whether they deserve the service they think they are being deprived of.
Without comparison, the only thing that comes close to making this movie bearable is the acting of Shakur. Many musicians and athletes trying to make the transition woefully fail (like Michael Jordan in “Space Jam”), but Shakur is at least as good as anyone else in the movie.
Roth can usually be relied upon for a quality performance (he was the redeeming actor in “Four Rooms”), but the writing for him in this film is so poor that he never gets a chance to shine.
If nothing else, “Gridlock’d” gives two reasons for more people to be saddened by the death of Shakur: This newly discovered talent will never act again, and when he did, his time was completely wasted.
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