Precinct Seven Five (aka The Seven Five) review by Adrijan Arsovski - Cinema Paradiso
A fascinating journey through greed, corruption and a downward spiral of questionable morality, Precinct Seven Five is one of those films deeply down you wish weren’t true, only to succumb to melancholy and (multiple) existential crises when you realize it actually is.
Precinct Seven Five is the 75th precinct in Brooklyn, New York – a place where instead of justice reigning supreme – officers had to employ their own sets of values different from their teachings at the academy (if one can say so). In order for officers to survive in such harsh conditions as in the area around precinct 75 (a notoriously bad neighborhood), they had willingly chosen to overlook certain malpractices by their fellow comrades. What followed afterwards is meticulously depicted in the film, through real-life disturbing photographs, eye witness testimonies, interviews and archive footage that’re nothing short of giving you the real-life chills.
The structure consists of rookie cop Ken Eurell entering the belly of the beast and partnering up with a certain veteran cop named Michael Dowd; little did he knew at that point what dangers awaited him on the other side.
Boiling down to sheer will of surviving, it’s really hard to review Precinct Seven Five without giving too much of the major plot points it contains. To describe it best would probably mean to unravel everything in the movie – as it successively happened – right toward the very end (of structure and otherwise).
What director Tiller Russell does however, is mixing the classical storytelling with retrospection and cathartic revelations (via Dowd’s interview at a commission), while it slowly backs up the narration with visual cues of the same crimes Dowd’s accused of. In a world of linear narration and in-your-face dialog, Tiller Russell employs simple, yet effective means to keep the story from becoming one of your everyday depressing documentaries (although the former still rings true for this one).
Slowly and gradually and our little story evolves into something even the craziest and most vivid of visionary crime novelists wouldn’t dare to think about, yet write on the subject. Ken Eurell gets deeply intertwined in the dark side of the NYPD, along with Dowd, who, at this point, would sell his own kidneys in order to make a living out of it all. Drugs, violence and setting up civilian citizens are just part of the repertoire of this corrupted NYPD contingent, and who can blame them: times in Precinct Seven Five are getting tougher by and large.
To wrap it up: Precinct Seven Five is a stunning testimony of nihilistic proportions, where one sees the ones who swore to protect and serve doing quite the opposite of their duties – reaching a downward spiral of woeful events and tragic conclusions.
Sometimes I’m just glad documentaries like this are still being made to this day.