VOD Review: Officer Downe.
Based on a niche graphic novel, Office Downe is aggressively bad and nearly unwatchable as a movie.
When I first saw the trailer for Officer Downe, I thought that it might be a fun foray into a lesser known comic book series. It gave off a vibe of hyper-violent antisocial mayhem, with the possibility of some social commentary. I like counter culture supernatural cop comics, as odd as that may seem. Judge Dredd, Savage Dragon, even Spawn all held my interest at one point. I’d never heard of Officer Downe, but I was interested.
Unfortunately, the film is a mess in about every way possible: the characters are underdeveloped and meaningless, the plot is random and abandoned by the end of the film, and the cinematography is physically painful to watch. Kim Coates gives a game attempt as Downe, but the lousiness of the overall film cannot be overcome by one man. This could easily taken the top spot for worst movie of 2016.
Office Downe (2016.)
LA is ravaged by street crime directed by a shadowy cabal of animal mask wearing psychos known as The Fortune 500. Against this existential threat, the LAPD creates a clandestine program where a former police office killed in the line of duty, Officer Terry Downe, is continually resurrected from the dead, imbued with supernatural stamina, and sent to eliminate crime by any means necessary.
Police Line Up.
The film follows a rookie police officer named Gable who is initiated into the secret task force that assists Downe on his bloody quest for justice. We can guess that Gable is super into being a police officer because he tells everyone that repeatedly. He even has a creepy scene where he pulls a gun on his own reflection and reiterates “you’re a cop!” to himself ad nauseum. That is about as much back story as this movie can muster.
The other members of the task force are mere place holders. His fellow officers exist soley to bust his balls and to spew hatred at Downe, for no logical reason. The guy is literally dying every day to make the streets safe for cops, so of course these deputy dipshits resent the hell out of him for it. Lauren Velez, best known as a gritty police captain on Dexter, basically just reprises that role here, but can’t find much traction.
The villains in the film are just as nebulous and throw-away. The Fortune 500 are three cretins dressed as animals who overact their scenes, playing versions of foul mouthed Snidely Whiplashes. Don’t worry too much about them though, since they simply disappear from the film at the end.
The baddies hire a blaxploitation ninja named Zen Master Flash to kill Downe, and he’s about as good as the action in this film gets. At least he can pull off a cool fight scene…despite alternating between dubbed Chinese dialogue or voiced-over jive talk. His mouth does not sync up when he speaks English, so you technically have a reference to classic chop socky movies. Enlightening.
The rest of the rogues are scenery chewing and juvenile creations torn from a Batman comic from the 1950’s, with the addition of extra cussing and violence.
Felonious Assault with a Camera.
The movie really gets into egregiously awful territory due to the horrendous cinematography. There is no shortage of choppy editing and shacky cam work. Downe has a visual tick where his face and limbs jerk erratically like a heavy metal music video from the early 2000’s, not surprising since the film is directed by Shawn Crahan from the band Slipknot.
The worst aspect of the bad camera work is the near constant assault from the lighting. Shots constantly have bright flood lights pointed directly at the camera, and many scenes include strobe lights for aggressively long stretches. I had to look away for minutes at a time to avoid violent nausea, and towards the end of the film had a nice little migraine developing.
The aesthetic of Officer Downe is pure puerile juvenile power fantasy. The film opens with an extended sequence of a nude thrashing woman receiving oral sex from Downe as an on-screen “Orgasm Counter” clangs away with a side-show bell each time she climaxes. This scene is repeated later, and no explanation for Downe’s predilection for cunnilingus is ever given. It’s all down hill from there.
The violence in the movie is pervasive and bloodless despite all the gore flying around. Downe and the criminals he fights exchange gunshots endlessly, with baddies constantly pumping ineffective rounds into his torso only to receive a single bullet from his oversized gun to the head. Rinse and repeat. Good thing for Downe not a single one of the billion bullets aimed at him ever hit him in the head. The ninjas are even worse, standing around Downe and swinging their weapons endlessly, waiting for their chance to attack him one at a time.
One Good Cop.
Kim Coates tries to imbue Downe with steely resolve, mental fragility, and even empathy. Several times he visits the human corral of paralyzed psychics who regenerate him, tenderly touching their hands or arranging their hair. Before each mission he psyches himself up by repeating a mantra of questions, and his increasingly menacing answers actually make you feel that Downe could be an interesting anti-hero. Unfortunately, he’s not actually in a movie where any of his character building gets to matter.
Officer Downe is a bad movie. It is one of the worst movies I’ve seen since The Last Heist or Dark was the Night, mostly because the film seems intent on attacking the audience with immaturity and poor film making. The characters are mostly thin grotesqueries with no substance, the plot abruptly drops the narrative at the end like they’d run out of money to actually film a climax, the camera work is viciously amateurish, and the music is loud and grating. This was a painful movie to watch, and the fact that it ends with a sequel-bait non-ending is laughable and infuriating. Lock this film up and throw away the key.