Studio: Magnet Releasing
Director: M. Shawn Crahan
Writer: Joe Casey
Producer: Skip Williamson, Mark Neveldine, Joe Casey, Cole Payne
Stars: Kim Coates, Tyler Ross, Lauren Luna Velez, Reno Wilson, Bruno Gunn, Tracy Vilar, Sona Eyambe, Corey Taylor, Meadow Williams, Sam Witwer, Alison Lohman
A rookie LAPD officer is assigned to monitor a one-man police force who is resurrected every time he dies in the line of duty.
A near-future American city with an underbelly corrupted by outlandish outlaws. A fiercely determined police officer killed by criminals in the line of duty. An experimental program designed to build the ultimate law enforcement hero.
That may double as a description of RoboCop, but this is not Detroit. This is “Motherf*cking L.A.,” as intertitle text puts it, and the rejuvenated juggernaut of peacekeeping and punishment is Officer Downe.
Terry Downe never knew a life other than that of a dedicated policeman. No wife and no family, Downe’s only love was the law. This made him the ideal subject for an off-the-books operation that can Lazarus a dead cop in the LAPD’s secret underground lab. Shoot him up, cut him up, punch him up, or blow him up, the brass will always bring him back. Officer Downe won’t remember much about what happened, or even much about himself, but he will remember that his number one desire is to scrub the city of its scum by any means necessary.
Backing up Downe is a four-person field unit assigned to keep an eye on the suped-up supercop. Fresh-faced Officer Gable is new to the team and doesn’t understand orders to hang back while their one-man wrecking crew brazenly lays waste to villainous vermin. If Gable can’t get out of the way, his by-the-book approach to keeping reins on Officer Downe might get someone killed.
That’s if one of the city’s sinister syndicates doesn’t murder them first. The Fortune 500, a criminal cabal consisting of lion, tiger, and vulture-faced bosses, wants Officer Downe dead permanently. So while Downe and the PD are busy battling the likes of drug runner Headcase Harry or gun-toting nun Mother Supreme, the Fortune 500 have contracted teleporting ninja assassin Zen Master Flash to take out Downe once and for all.
Like the graphic novel it is based on, “Officer Downe” is an eye-bulging orgy of blood, boobs, and balls-to-the-walls mayhem. Loud, lewd, and loaded with tits, tattoos, and testosterone also works as an alliterative description of the movie’s colorfully chaotic tone. If the mental image still hasn’t formed, think of a sexed-up Judge Dredd with a rogues gallery of cartoonish cretins that could draw the envy of a demented Dick Tracy.
Because of its brashness, juvenile jokes, and extreme violence, “Officer Downe” defines a movie that is definitely “not for everyone.” Really, “Officer Downe” requires two separate review scores.
Taking a cue from King Solomon, the fair way to average a rating is to award two stars out of four. If dialogue like, “kicking your heads in makes my d*ck hard!” or gags involving a police officer receiving a blowjob under his desk inspires a fist in the air with a hearty “f*ck yeah!,” feel free to add another star, maybe go up to the full four. If you’re unimpressed by humor such as “adios assh*ole!” as accompanying text for a villain’s demise or animal-masked baddies receiving blowjobs of their own, by all means take a star away, maybe go all the way down to zero.
I have no moral or creative objections to something like a scene of Catholic nun heads exploding Scanners-style while metal music blares in the background. I’m just of an inclination where such setups no longer seem edgy, original, or particularly shocking as supposedly subversive entertainment.
The film may not be tailored to my tastes, but it might be suited for others. “Officer Downe” aims its appeal at an ADHD crowd entranced by seizure-inducing visuals. Partly due to its comic book origins, perhaps partly due to director Shawn Crahan’s music industry background, imagery is hyper-energized by the camera’s aversion to sitting still or staying on a single shot for longer than one second. If the camera isn’t canted, jittering, or soaking up color-drenched scenery, it’s racing to the next frenzied setup with Road Runner speed.
Even if you get onboard with the scattered cinematic style, “Officer Downe” has huge narrative problems and fundamental flaws in characterization. Whitebread rookie Officer Gable is the audience’s entry point into this wildly weird world, yet a disproportionate number of scenes featuring Gable put him onscreen three to four times more often than Officer Downe. Tyler Ross puts a likable spin on a stereotypical character as Gable. But Kim Coates is the main attraction as Officer Downe and he feels like a secondary focus in the movie bearing his name.
It might be more appropriate to say that Officer Downe is Kim Coates. Coates slides as effortlessly into the no-nonsense badass persona as “Sons of Anarchy” fans might expect of the unique actor. And he just isn’t featured enough.
More problematic than that, Officer Downe is a shell of a personality. Comparative counterpart Alex Murphy of “RoboCop” has an emotional side story of being an estranged family man fighting to understand his identity while reconciling his past with his future. Downe sees brief glimmers of a sympathetic origin, though he is employed almost exclusively as a loose cannon Kool-Aid Man bursting onto crime scenes in a smokescreen of flash and fire.
Worse still, Officer Downe is actually a terrible cop. As a “devil may care” tank in superhuman form, he gets the job done by giving crooks their comeuppance through the business end of his custom .85 magnum. But he walks into traps and gets killed literally every single time there is a criminal confrontation. Downe is arguably effective, but certainly not tactically efficient, ultimately landing as a largely empty hero.
Antagonists aren’t developed any better. The Fortune 500, the criminal cyst on the city that Downe is dispatched to eliminate in the first place, interacts with exactly no one. When they contract Zen Master Flash to do their dirty work, they do so over the phone. They never even face off with a single cop, leaving them to look like disposable McDonaldland rejects instead of memorably menacing adversaries.
Secondary characters are similarly segregated by insular scenes rarely intersecting with other threads, particularly Gable’s police partners, who never share moments with the chief nor add essential value with their peripheral inclusions. Once end credits roll, there comes a realization that “Officer Downe” is less of a jelled story and more of a vignette collection failing to fit together as well as it should.
Dismissing fiction foibles altogether, sex-centric song lyrics and “orgasm counters” during fellatio scenes are treated with a certain sincerity, meaning an inebriated mood can find enjoyment by playing along with the crassness. Director Shawn Crahan is serious about “Officer Downe” as art, albeit unapologetically irreverent art, and the evident passion in bringing that madness to life shows. While that passion cannot be ignored, neither can the notion that the movie’s over-the-top attitude could pack more substance behind its stylized punch.
NOTE: There is a post-credits scene.
Review Score: 50