If you think you have seen everything a comic book adaptation can be, think again. Shawn Crahan’s Officer Downe is an absolutely insane, absurdly violent, and fiercely loyal take on Joe Casey’s comic series of the same name that kicks ass without giving a damn about names. It’s a film that even now, after two viewings, I am struggling to describe without a flood of adjectives and a lot of exclamation points. For the person who believes they have seen it all, Officer Downe is here to prove them wrong. Dead wrong.
I honestly don’t even know where to begin with this film. Kim Coates stars as Officer Downe, a ruthlessly savage Los Angeles police office who is repeatedly resurrected and returned to duty thanks to dark science technology. He’s not a zombie as much as he is a miracle of medicine, and his only mission in life is to bring the worst scum bags in the city of Los Angeles to their knees. That said, he does have his hobbies. Whether he’s trying to set a new world record for the most orgasms delivered through cunnilingus or simply mowing down evildoers with a gun larger than most household pets, Downe does everything to the extreme.
Everyone in Downe’s life believes he is little more than a human weapon, existing solely to be used as a tool rather than treated like a person, but things begin to change when an up-and-coming cop, Office Gable (Tyler Ross), is assigned to be his partner. Gable knows next to nothing about Downe at the top of the film, and he’s got a number of questions regarding the science behind his partner’s resurrections, which causes a bit of tension with his fellow coworkers. There is little time for answers though, as Los Angeles is threatened by hordes of villains being overseen by a group of literal animals in suits that refer to themselves as the Fortune 500. Gable must squash his concerns in an effort to protect the people of his city, but with each clue comes additional insight into his mysterious partner.
The world that Office Down and Gable inhabit is as ridiculous as Downe himself. Crahan’s vision of Casey’s take on Los Angeles is teeming with over-the-top personalities, danger at every turn, costumes that look as if they were conceived in the mind of a literal madman, and an elaborate use of what appears to be the entire color spectrum. Every scene feels both incredibly real and directly lifted from a world that only exists in the pages of the comic that inspired their creation. There is some new, jaw-dropping sight to be seen every few minutes, and it’s all bathed in an array of bright, neon-tinted colors.
What truly sells this bizarre world are the performances of those who are tasked with bringing to life those that exist within it. Coates—having previously proven himself to be a strong dramatic actor through his work on Sons Of Anarchy—establishes a presence in this film that will very likely make him a genre icon in the months and years to come. Likewise, Ross—who has nowhere near the credits of his co-star—presents Gable as someone viewers can relate to. He is in many ways the glue that holds the world together, and the strange camaraderie he shares with Coates on screen helps sell the feature.
Officer Downe comes closer than any Marvel or DC film to date at accurately adapting its source material to the big screen. It makes over-the-top films like Crank and Shoot Em Up look like child’s play, and it never attempts to apologize for, or otherwise tone down, the most absurd elements of Joe Casey’s beloved story. This is probably due, at least in part, to the fact Casey himself wrote the script, but that is just one more reason this film—unlike the vast majority of comic book adaptations—gets everything right about the character and universe it wants to share. Officer Downe is a nonstop thrill ride bursting with blood, guts, and a deeply weird sense of humor that viewers will never want to end. It seems unlikely the film will spawn a sequel, but if it does I will be the first in line for round two.