New to VOD: The Long Arm of the Law - Officer Downe (2016) - Reviewed

I'm a huge fan of schlocky exploitation films with lots of nudity and violence, so when I saw the trailer for Officer Downe, a film based on Joe Casey's hyper violent comic book from 2010, I was excited. It was directed by M. Shawn Crahan, better known as "Clown" from the heavy metal band Slipknot and the screenplay was written by Joe Casey himself. The ingredients were there for a cool movie, but unfortunately the execution wasn't quite up to snuff.

The story is a combination of Robocop and Judge Dredd: an LA cop named Officer Downe (Kim Coates) is killed on duty and resurrected by dark science to be a killing machine on the mean streets. He shows no mercy, very much like Judge Dredd, but is somewhat tempered by his rookie partner Officer Gable (Tyler Ross) who is extremely by-the-books. The plot is disjointed and doesn't flow well from scene to scene. Office Downe has to fight a bizarre assortment of villains with unclear motives--a group of animal/people hybrids called the Fortune 500, a kung fu parody known as Zen Master Flash, and the Guardian Angel covenant, a group of sexy demon worshipping nuns. None of these adversaries explain why they have beef with Officer Downe, they are just there to provide cannon fodder for him to blast with his guns.

Officer Downe shines during the action scenes which are cleverly filmed and highly stylized. This is where everything gels together and it captures the feel of an Image comic book perfectly. The gore is plentiful and there are a lot of heads being blown off and people being gunned to death. As a positive, the practical make up work is excellent though it does use some extremely fake looking digital blood effects from time to time. For a film like this to work, it needs to not take itself seriously and I felt like the script could have used a lot more humor injected into it. There are a few funny lines here and there, but it also has a tendency to go off on serious tangents that seem tonally jarring next to the over-the-top action scenes. Crahan also used a lot of different filming techniques which only serves to make the movie feel even more incoherent--it really needed a solid look to tie it all together.

Kim Coates is the best part of the film because he plays the '70s era porno-mustachioed Downe with a solemn masculinity that gives him an interesting angle. His character is written with zero nuance though, like what a fifteen-year-old boy thinks constitutes a bad ass. There are a few pointless scenes where we have to watch Downe banging chicks complete with an "orgasm counter" to really hammer home how manly he is. Quite frankly, I though it was dumb and there a million better ways to show how much of a ladies man he is (when in actuality he has no attributes that would make him attractive to women). I wasn't offended by it as much as I found it to be boring and unnecessary. Crahan doesn't know what to do with any scene that has characters exchanging dialogue and they play out incredibly stiff and awkward.

If you are a fan of Slipknot style chuggy Nu-Metal then you find a lot to love with the soundtrack for Officer Downe. It fits the action well enough, but it's not my bag to be sure. I did like the coloring used for many of the scenes as it has that bright saturated look that emulates the comic books perfectly. This genre has already been done much better with movies like Kick-Ass (2010), Kingsmen: The Secret Service (2014) or even Hobo with a Shotgun (2011). I would recommend checking those out instead of this downer (see what I did there) of a flick.

Share it like bullets. 


-Michelle Kisner