A movie review of “The Seven Five”: This ethically challenged documentary giddily revisits the true-crime deeds of former New York police Officer Michael Dowd.
The documentary “The Seven Five” giddily revisits the true-crime deeds of Michael Dowd, a former New York police officer who was arrested in 1992 with a stash of cocaine on him. As the ringleader of a crew of dirty cops stationed at the 75th Precinct in East New York, he padded his income by stealing money, guns and drugs from dealers. He eventually graduated to working for drug rings, one of which put him on retainer so he could provide information about narcotic operations.
“The Seven Five” has been called “the cop version of ‘Goodfellas,’ ” which may explain why Sony has plans to produce a fictional remake. Here’s hoping that version uses a better moral compass.
You learn a lot in “The Seven Five” about Dowd’s criminal exploits, which emerge in original interviews with him and some of his former associates, in re-creations of their exploits and, valuably, in clips from his testimony before the Mollen Commission. It was formed after Dowd and a handful of other dirty cops were arrested on narcotic charges.
‘The Seven Five,’ a documentary directed by Tiller Russell. 104 minutes. Rated R for pervasive language, some grisly crime-scene images, and drug content. Sundance Cinemas (21+).
The New York Times does not provide star ratings with reviews.
Now Dowd, having served time in a federal prison, is making a comeback as the star of this breathless, ethically challenged documentary, which director Tiller Russell has pulled together as slickly as an episode of “Law & Order” (without, you know, much of either).
Most Read Entertainment Stories
- Soundgarden on 30 years of ‘Badmotorfinger,’ the ‘weird science project’ that became a grunge classic
- Delayed Van Gogh show gets a new opening date in Seattle
- That magic moment 30 years ago when Nirvana and ‘Nevermind’ forever changed Seattle
- Amor Towles follows 2 brothers on an epic road trip in fine new novel ‘The Lincoln Highway’
- Seattle rapper Raz Simone threw a pop-up, drive-in concert at a Seattle Center parking lot. Here's how it went.
The main source here is Dowd, who excitedly recounts how he stole drugs and money. Every so often if not nearly enough, you also hear from some of the good guys who helped bring Dowd down, including one who soberly invokes what bad guys like Dowd meant for neighborhoods under his watch.
When asked by the commission whether his loyalties were with “the community he was supposed to be policing” or the drug traffickers he protected, Dowd said, “I guess I’d have to say the drug traffickers.”
Dowd’s vehement narration does have, at times, a vague Joe-Pesci-in-“Goodfellas” feel, which is amusing only if you ignore the historical record. In 1988, when Dowd was still on the force, an estimated 100 people were murdered in East New York. Those dead should haunt “The Seven Five.”