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Oh, Stephen Dorff - if only your movies were better....
Anchor Bay / 97 Minutes / 2013 / Rated R / Street Date: January 22, 2013
Sofia Coppola didn't catapult Stephen Dorff into the Oscar stratosphere with her last meandering picture, Somewhere, but even if the domestic response to her drama was lukewarm, for those of us who paid attention, it was hard to resist Steve-O's quiet power. Over the course of his multi-decade career, Stephen Dorff hasn't delivered perhaps a singular iconic performance, but even his trashy stuff leaves him shining.
What I mean to say is that Dorff is unfairly underrated, and even in a been-there-done-that picture like Officer Down, this sentiment continues to grow. As a disgruntled cop with a tumultuous history, Dorff underplays things with strident, steely confidence here: he doesn't necessarily chew the scenery around him, but he nevertheless pops out from the mediocrity that surrounds him.
in Officer Down, Dorff plays David Callahan, a detective recovering from a gunshot wound. This guy wasn't injured rescuing a kitty kat from a tall tree, though - it turns out that Callahan has a deeply sordid past, one that hinders his already-volatile relationship with his wife. As he attempts to put the pieces of his life back together and move forward, he steps in some quicksand: there's a stripper, strangers with money and firearms, vices that seem to hard for Callahan to resist - Officer Down documents this guy's descent into hell.
But the movie is plain as vanilla. It's easy to stay focused on Mr. Dorff as he does what he can with the movie's menial dramatic material, but Officer Down defaults to cliche whenever it can. There's a time and a place for a cop drama - there's a reason there are at least two of them on TV at every primetime hour of the week - but even though there are occasional moments of gritty intrigue here, not even Dorff and his unique on-screen presence can save Officer Down from itself.