Officer Downe 2016
Even though this is seemingly a regular occurrence for me, I’m still surprised when I find new, low budget superhero or comic book movies that had slipped under my radar in the previous few years. This one came out late last year, produced by one of the directors of the Crank movies and directed by a member of Slipknot and was recently made available on Netflix streaming. It’s based on a short lived and lesser known comic from Image comics and the film itself is a colorful, kinetic, ultraviolent, grindhouse-esque movie with a lot more tongue-in-cheek humor to it. The set up is a lot of wacky and bloody fun that doesn’t entirely make sense, but takes you along for the ride until things get a little too self-serious towards the end as the joke starts losing its effectiveness. But I still had a blast with it.
Officer Downe kicks things off by telling you exactly what it is, after a brief monologue from the titular character, it cuts right to an oral sex scene between Downe and a naked woman, complete with an orgasm counter in the bottom right corner of the screen that dings its way up to 14, then when it cuts to the next scene it comes with the title card “Motherfucking L.A.”. Irreverent nods like this happen throughout the film including one character who is a black ninja who wears a flowery ninja outfit more fitting of a couch in your grandmother’s living room. He also cuts back and forth between speaking subtitled Japanese and speaking English as if he were badly dubbed, kicking the first switch over with the line “Fuck these subtitles”.
Kim Coates plays Officer Downe who is basically a personality-less killing machine who gets revived by a group of physically disabled telekinetics. He looks just like how the character looks in the comics with the oversized, reflective sunglasses and overly large policeman’s hat with an oddly proportioned upside down star. He’s one of those action heroes who talks with his gun when he’s not reciting the Miranda rights, or at least an action movie quippy variation on them. In three out of four of the action set pieces in this film, he winds up dead to be revived at a later time. The action itself is on the ultra-violent side, with plenty of heads exploding from gunshot wounds, hands getting cut off, etc. And along with the rest of the movie, the violence also veers towards being so violent that it’s absurdly funny like when Downe pulls off the leg of one of the nuns and uses it to beat the rest of the criminals surrounding him.
The violence overall is offset by the extremely saturated and vibrant color palette. There are plenty of impressively composed shots that absolutely feel like they were pulled right off the pages of a comic book with an extra hefty does of lens flares. There were also moments of other visual flairs like some flashes of fast motion as Downe recuperates from one of his resurrections and one of the villainous nuns has the odd ability to speak with reverb to make herself more impressive.
The other main character is a rookie officer who is brought into the inner circle of people who know the truth about Officer Downe. He’s part of a team whose entire job is basically just to follow Downe around, let him kill everyone until he eventually dies, and then bring his body back to be resurrected, and not interfere or else in his mindset he might turn on one of them as if they were a criminal. He’s reminiscent of the Agent Meyers character in Hellboy only he has a little bit more life in him. He doesn’t exactly follow orders and ends up helping Downe. Not only that, but when things get rough in the third act, he’s the one who rouses them all in a last ditch effort to save a captured Downe in one of the less effective moments in the movie.
The villains themselves are an odd mix as well. There is a trio of animal-headed villains called Fortune 500, though due to the budgetary limitations of this movie it was unclear if they were villains wearing animal masks, or if their heads were supposed to actually be those animals. They also hire the dubbed ninja who has his own posse of ninja minions, but not only that, but for some reason he has the ability to teleport. There’s also those weird nuns with the overly ornate habits and several of them have a giant cross painted on their faces. What’s also interesting is that the second in command nun was played by Allison Lohman who was an up and coming actress in the early 2000’s, but has seemingly been relegated to supporting roles in lower budget fare like this film.
Overall, this movie was stupid fun along the lines of recent tongue-in-cheek hits like Manborg or Kung Fury. The first half of this film is so over the top it’s ridiculously entertaining, though the joke does start to fall flat towards the latter half of the film as things get more focused on the rookie saving Downe. It almost could have been helped by a shorter run time even though it clocks in at a brisk hour and a half. Still, it’s colorful, fun, and ultra-violent. Surprisingly, looking at some of the other responses to this film, most people either aren’t in on the joke, or it quite possibly wasn’t what they were expecting, but I had a whole lot of fun with it and considering it’s currently on Netflix instant, it’s worth an hour and a half of your time. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.