Precinct Seven Five (15) | Close-Up Film Review

Precinct Seven Five

Dir. Tiller Russell, USA, 2014, 104 mins

Cast: Michael Dowd, Ken Eurell, Walter Yurkiw

Precinct Seven Five is a documentary, telling the story of a group of New York City police officers who became infamous for their lucrative and extensive law breaking in Brooklyn, New York throughout the 1980s. The only officer charged and incarcerated was Michael Dowd. Their reign as the most corrupt officers in New York caused masses of damages to the city, tax payers’ money and lives were lost on both sides of the law. The 75th precinct was infamous, and the story of how it all unfolded is dramatic, unfathomable but true.

Dowd, the protagonist, is charming, as criminals are often portrayed to be in the movies; you may find yourself on his side, but just remember there is no “good” cop in this story, just a whole lot of bad ones doing very bad things. It is a documentary which has you laughing, cringing and wincing. Masses of information and entertainment delivered in equal quantity, a delight which will leave you wanting more.

Dowd as a young man had no direction, he wound up signing up to the police academy to inevitably become an officer of the law. Funny how things happen, in his words led astray early on whilst still in the Academy he fell rather easily into crime, blaming the lack of appreciation and poor salary amongst the reasons. Unsatisfied going alone, he “recruited” honest cops into his fold including his reluctant partner Ken Eurell as well as two other moonlighting former cops. They stole, drug trafficked and enabled drug dealing within their precinct.

The charm and charisma of Adam Diaz, a Dominican drug lord left little doubt as to how he became the most powerful drug lord in New York at the time. His flippant manner of speaking on how he “got rid” of those that got in his way was positively chilling, in particular a drug addict who stole from him; but one could not mistake the undeniable lure. He seduced me. Dowd and Diaz were a force to be reckoned with, both powerhouses on both sides of the law, controlling the flow of drugs throughout the boundaries of the 75th Precincts invisible walls. Dowd would even tip off to any action being taken by the cops of his own precinct and even the feds.

Dowd never named a single accomplice in his testimony of guilt, after confessing to all the crimes he had recollection of. His reputation of not snitching remained intact and his tale is one for the big screen which Russell defines with finesse. His demise was to be his saviour as he fell afoul of becoming his own enemy.

Russell directs inspiring and capturing suspense, thrill and excitement, known for fiction films such as The Last Rites of Ransom Pride (2010); he produced a documentary where you’d not necessarily expect to be taken on thrill ride through a story already lived. A tale, already told. A conclusion already come.

“Welcome to the land of fuck!” was our introduction to the film. Funny, crude and real – exactly what the next 90 minutes had in store. I was thoroughly regaled, disturbed and shocked; Russell has reinvented the documentary and made it cool and accessible. The story itself was a shocking series of events of how the police in one life can placate, maintain and generate crime. Bold, funny and moving; a documentary that will surprise you.

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Author: Jennifer Chuks

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