a critiQal film review Officer Downe (2016)

Plot: A savage LA policeman (Coates) is repeatedly resurrected and returned to active duty via dark science technology. When a rookie officer named Gable (Ross) is recruited as back up, he discovers there's much more to this super-cop than a mindless law enforcement drone warring against a twisted rogues gallery of over-the-top super villains.

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722 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 36s)

After reviewing Judge Dredd (1995) yesterday, I was all set to watch Dredd (2012)…but I came across a problem. Although I could have sworn the film was available on NetFlix®, it wasn’t. Or on Amazon Prime, or Crackle. Disappointed, I searched for something else to watch…and came across Officer Downe.

I’d never even heard of Officer Downe before, but the little blurb about it sounded interesting, so I figured “why not?” Would I be disappointed in this, my second choice? Or would the lack of Dredd (2012) be a blessing in disguise?

Kim Coates, of “Sons of Anarchy” (TV) fame, takes the titular role in Officer Downe and runs with it. He’s spot on as this savage LA cop with a hidden heart, and his violent persona just seems to make sense. To this cop, it’s his duty, and, literally, the only reason he’s alive. Kim brings that out in every sequence, even while the film revels in the gore around him.

Tyler Ross, as the new rookie cop, is decent enough, but he just doesn’t have the passion that Kim does in Officer Downe. He and Luna Lauren Velez, as his boss, are decent enough to keep the film moving at it’s brisk pace even when Kim is off-screen, but neither can bring the sheer fortitude that Kim brings to his character.

The villains of the picture are playing characters so over-the-top it’s silly, but their performances tend to lend a B-movie quality to the film. They just aren’t up to snuff, and never really take their characters and make them shine. Instead, they take these over-the-top characters and, for the most part, don’t really do anything with them. The only real exception to this is Alison Lohman, playing Sister Blister (lackey to Mother Supreme), who doesn’t get nearly enough screen time.

Officer Downe is all about the titular character, who, through the use of telekinetic invalids, is able to be resurrected after death. On duty and playing one man army to crime in the streets of a dystopian LA ruled by criminals, he does his best to wipe away all crime himself. When a rookie cop joins the group that goes in an cleans up after him, he questions whether this is really the way things should be done. Not a bad plot, and it sets the scene for loads of gore when this one cop army tears his way through a gang stronghold.

The film itself is shot as a celebration of gore and sex. After watching a nude woman writhe as an “orgasm counter” ticks off in the corner of the screen near the beginning of the film, get prepared. Officer Downe isn’t going to get any tamer from there. It seems the film has a fascination with oral sex, and throws it in any chance it gets, even if none of the sequences really do anything for the film at all.

But it’s the gore that really pulls out all the stops. While the beginning oral sequence makes the viewer wonder if they inadvertently put on an X-rated film, it’s the gore that really goes over-the-top. Whether it’s sequences of heads exploding from shotgun-type blasts to a nearly-severed hand being chewed off, or a severed head being used as a weapon, the blood and guts of the film is the grisly centerpiece of Officer Downe.

And yet, there is a dark comic heart that lies just beneath the surface in Officer Downe. Even as you cringe at the grisly images, there is a hint of laughter under your breath. Whether it’s the obviously dubbed voice of Sona Eyambe bringing up memories of old martial arts flicks, or the grim smile on Kim’s face as he blasts his way through the enemy, there’s something of a dark sense of humor permeating most of the grisliest sequences.

While the film definitely has a B-movie feel to it, and it’s not without its faults, Officer Downe is an interesting film to watch. With an actual storyline hidden beneath all the gratuitous sex and violence, it’s actually a lot more entertaining than you might first think. Think of it as sort of a homage to both Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003) and Crank (2006) (with a dash of the comic book stylings of Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (2010)), and you may find yourself enjoying Officer Downe too.

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