I think my recent deluge of B-movies has infected my theater selections because the past releases lately have included nothing that interested me or I haven’t seen already. Struggling to find something to fill the unexpected free time I had this weekend, I looked at the current releases on a whim. Much to my surprise, I found something that caught my eye, “Officer Downe.” The wordplay intrigued me, so I decided to give it a shot.
“Officer Downe” takes place in the city of Los Angeles, which is dealing with an epidemic of crime. Street drugs are getting more terrifying and the criminals that are dwelling in the city are becoming so notorious and powerful that they are donning costumes. It seems bizarre, but in a region that is slowly going mad, costumed criminal lords would be relatively sane. The LAPD is overwhelmed with the saturation of criminal activity and needs an asset to bring order back in tandem with the law. An ordinary asset won’t cut it; they need a mad solution for a mad world.
We are introduced to the asset in the first few scenes of his titular film. Officer Downe is a cop with a devotion to the law that would rival “Dredd” and tenacity toward criminals to match. Downe breaks apart a new drug cooking operation by breaking into the warehouse with a van and promptly eliminating all the thugs that violently attempt to resist arrest. Upon cornering the drug lord, Downe reads him his Miranda Rights. The lord reveals a detonator strapped to his hand and blows the entire building to pieces.
It is at this point we learn about the titular wordplay. An investigative team shows up and we see Downe dead amongst the charred remains of the destroyed warehouse. They recover his corpse and we cut to an LAPD precinct. A rookie has been selected to be part of a special division of the precinct that oversees the handling and revivification of Downe. After the rookie is shown the elements of his new duties, we are introduced to the main villains of this movie: The Fortune 500.
Whether or not the name choice is a statement is up to the individual viewer; but I will say that if it was intended, it did not work. The Fortune 500 in this film’s universe is a criminal empire run by three assumedly anthropomorphic animals, which take the destruction of the drug operation as an act of war and call in a specialist to take down Downe. Meanwhile, Downe has been resurrected. He suits up for another raid.
The subject of the raid is probably one of my favorite B-movie bad guys, a corrupt convent of nuns. These nuns follow a more literal version of the old phrase “spray and pray,” and do so with the most expensive hardware their arms-trading hands can get a hold of. Downe eliminates all of the underlings, as you would expect, and makes it to the main hall of this unholy church. Downe has taken many wounds before entering conflict with the head nun of the convent and falls to the floor. The rookie appears and manages to arrest the head nun. This, however, leads to complications with his superiors.
This is where I cut the film into two pieces. The first was everything that I just had watched and enjoyed immensely. The second begins after the rookie is read the Riot Act for interfering in Downe’s raid. In my mind, I was getting angry with the movie. The rookie came in when Downe was, well, down for the count again. If the rookie just stayed outside and didn’t come in, the head-gun nun would have gotten away. I came to a realization that only a few members of the cast didn’t annoy me if you don’t count the countless deceased henchmen.
It was in this second piece of the film that the lore of Downe was starting to be explained. This was not done organically and, therefore, felt out of place. Perhaps I was spoiled by “Dredd,” but when you have a character that fights crime with superhuman abilities or powers, I would expect that to take the focus of the film. The second piece of the film had only one highlight, Zen Master Flash, who I can only describe as a hip-hop music video crossed with ninjutsu, and his students fighting Downe. Everything before and after this highlight was slow and didn’t do much other than give the other cast members screen time. At least in “Dredd” the other cast members were significant enough that they did things other than stand around and give us exposition.
“Officer Downe” is an interesting case. Its film family tree would have the parents of “Dredd” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World,” along with the family friend “Sin City.” The first half of the movie is fun, energetic, and filled with moments that give you an odd kind of joy. The latter half is boring, but nothing apocalyptic. Other than the supporting cast being majorly irritating, there really isn’t much going against this film. However, there really isn’t much going for it either, especially since this was a limited showing film. If you have the ability to see the film, and have nothing better to do, give it a shot. Just don’t go in while being enthusiastic about the premise of the movie like I did.