Reviews: Badge of Honor

Mike weighs in with a review of the recently released police drama, Badge of Honor starring Martin Sheen and Mena Suvari. 

badge of honor
I'm just looking for some
American pie to
snack on. 
The police procedural is a time-honored genre in film and television.  From Dragnet and Columbo up through Law & Order, it's an old standby that somehow never fails to entertain.  It usually at least makes for pretty good TV, as such sordid tales of murder and corruption and the like can often be wrapped up in a neat little bow in the allotted 44 minutes.  The movies don't always have it so easy.  You have your Departed and Training Day and End of Watch that transcend the conventions of the police procedural and deliver sharp, intense filmmaking.  Most attempts at translating the police procedural to film end up a bit on the mediocre side; the intentions are good, and there may even be an attempt at making something of quality, but in the end it's just another overextended TV episode.  Badge of Honor is the latest such film.

Badge of Honor is about a young Internal Affairs detective (Mena Suvari) investigating two narcotics detectives (Lochlyn Munro and Jesse Bradford) after a 15-year-old boy is killed during a botched drug bust.  Naturally, things get pretty intense for our heroic IA detective, as they often do in these sorts of movies.  The story unfolds a bit slowly, and has a few interesting beats, but there's a sameness permeating every scene and character that's difficult to ignore.  Psychologically troubled cop with a lot on his plate?  Check.  Victim's family whose cries for justice fall on deaf ears?  Check.  Plucky detective whose determination to do whatever it takes to find the truth gets her in hot water?  You get the idea.

badge of honor
Yeah, guys. I know. My son
is a royal douchebag.
All things considered Badge of Honor is actually pretty well made.  Co-writer/director Augustin, who had mostly done a lot of Spanish language films and TV shows, may have basically made a long TV episode, but it's a pretty decent looking one, with just the right amount of grit and intensity.  The performances are equally high quality, with Mena Suvari doing an admirable job carrying the film.  She would be right at home on a CSI or Law & Order spin-off of her own.  Character actor Munro takes a stock sketchy cop character and makes a pretty good go of it as well, toning down the occasional over-the-top-ness he sometimes brings to his characters.  There are bits and pieces of things that stand out in the film, but not much to raise it above the level of "a good cop show".

Badge of Honor could have been a pretty decent TV episode, but instead it was stretched into a mediocre movie--a movie you've seen before, several times.  Suvari and Munro do impress, but don’t do enough to elevate a routine procedural that doesn’t do them a whole lot of favors.  TV-level grit and intensity are not enough to carry the day; in the end a cop movie needs that little "something extra" to be great.  Try as it might, Badge of Honor never quite manages to get there.

Support your local police. Share this review. 
Pinterest Google+ StumbleUpon Twitter Reddit Facebook


-Mike Stec