Review: Kim Coates Gets Dead in OFFICER DOWNE

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Bloody, extreme action opus OFFICER DOWNE is a blast.

Terrence Downe is the perfect cop in a city ripe with crime; always on the job, absolutely dedicated to taking the bad guys out, and completely willing to put his life on the line until he finally makes the ultimate sacrifice – which he pays, again, and again, and again.

Such is the main device which drives OFFICER DOWNE through a frenetic adventure of ridiculous super villains, raunchy sex jokes, and gore soaked showdowns.  Downe was dedicated to the job in life, and that dedication caused him to be selected to take part in a very special and secret program once he met his original demise.  Back from the dead, Downe has been gifted with the special power of revitalization – the man may die but he’ll always rise – and the LAPD is now using this undead madman to take on some of the toughest thugs in the city.

Action, gore, and a bit of raunch are by far the main attributes offered by OFFICER DOWNE, and it offers all three with a rabid sense of humor.  The film opens by establishing Downe’s inhuman sexual prowess through a mildly sigh inducing – if still amusing – pun on his last name, before launching the preternatural cop into a mess of a gunfight which throws blood, body parts, and various organs about abundantly.

The action of the film is wild; every fight feels like the last showdown, and OFFICER DOWNE never holds back on the violence.  The undead cop wields a massive and likely functionally impossible .85 caliber magnum (to compare, the largest handgun in the real world is .50 caliber), and true to the gun’s bullet size, each and every shot is always a kill, and often an explosive one at that.

Matched to its action is the film’s over-the-top sense of humor.  The lead bad guys of the film are some sort of strange anthropomorphic animals called the ‘Fortune 500’, and make up the top kingpins of the city’s criminal underground.  The origins of these bipedal and often angry animal people are never explained, and really this is part of the joke.  If you’ve ever seen the character Teen Ape from the unforgettable films of Chris Seaver, then you already understand the kind of humor we’re talking about.

While the animal kingpins are the wackiest characters in the film, there are others worthy of note.  Included is a master ninja who speaks Mandarin, but who is often voiced over in English in a smooth tone that sounds like a reasonably good George Takei impression, and who leads a troop of vicious ninjas in floral print jams.  We also can’t forget the clan of cleavage-heavy gun-toting nuns, vehicles that growl like animals, a counter that conveniently keeps track of orgasms, and a cameo from Glenn Howerton of ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA fame, complete with homage to that series.  This over-the-top stew of humor is just as unrestrained as the violence and comfortably dwells in the land of the absurd.

Where OFFICER DOWNE falls flat is in the characters themselves.  In the first act, we’re introduced to a young rookie – one who is obviously a ‘good cop’ – and this rookie becomes assigned as backup for Downe and becomes very protective of his undead partner.  However, this story line doesn’t really go anywhere, nor does the storyline of Downe ever really evolve.  The character arcs are as flat-lined as Terrance Downe’s unbeating heart.  This lack of development makes the end of the film ring hollow, as if we were cheated of some postponed plot development that we may never see.  In some ways, OFFICER DOWNE feels like a prequel that is only meant to introduce a future project.

OFFICER DOWNE was originally a graphic novel written by Joe Casey and Chris Burnham, and Casey went on to pen the screenplay for the film. While I admittedly haven’t read the comic, its general synopsis seems to be loyal to its theatrical version.  SLIPKNOT founding member Shawn Crahan directs, and his involvement certainly helped to manifest the craziness of the comic to reality.  Also worth noting is main casting – Terrance Downe is played by Kim Coates (‘Tig’ from SONS OF ANARCHY), and this casting – both of Coates as well as his mustache – is absolutely perfect for the character.

What OFFICER DOWNE is selling is pretty straight forward and it does not hold anything back.  Fans of campy, gory fight scenes loaded with absurdist humor should go ahead and get in line.