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The Seven Five [Celluloid Hero]

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The Seven Five  (2014)

I’m fascinated by crooked cops. There is just something so captivating about the story of a person who enters the police force, who has a genuine desire to fight crime and serve the public, who then gets that small taste of a bribe, and then just can’t stop until it all spirals out of control. I’ve seen enough movies and TV shows to lead me to believe that something like 90% of all cops are on the take, which I pray isn’t true. I can absolutely understand the appeal of it, which is what makes it so much more interesting to see unfold before me.

I assume every single one of us has taken something from work, or done something that was technically forbidden, but “everyone does it” so you just went along with the group. Cops are the same – in the academy you’re taught to be legit; the veterans show the rookies how easy it is to sneak a few bucks into their pocket; the rookies are expected to keep quiet and/or take part, or else be labeled a rat. Rats don’t get protected the same way a loyal cop would, so it’s natural that in order to survive, a young cop could get sucked into a ring of corruption.

Michael Dowd joined the NYPD with pure intentions, but almost immediately realized he could make extra cash on the side. Things started small, just swiping a hundred dollar bill off a stack of confiscated cash, but it quickly escalated to protecting a drug dealer, and eventually starting his own drug dealing operation. He worked his way up to a larger cartel, brought in more coworkers, took larger risks, and ***SPOILER ALERT*** it all became too much for him to handle and came crashing down.

Even thought this was a documentary, I had no clue about the story. The third act had built to such a frenzied pace that I was actually tensed up, and caught totally surprised by a twist that, in theory, I should have seen coming since, yknow, “documentary featuring interviews with the actual participants”. It was the sort of thing that really gives life to the cliche of “truth is stranger than fiction” or “you can’t make this stuff up.”

I’m sure I’m being naive, but I imagine I would be the dirtiest cop in the history of dirty cops. At one point, Dowd said the salary for a New York cop was about $600 per week, or $31,600 per year. His protection racket was bringing in $8,000 a week, or $416,000 a year. How the hell could anyone turn down nearly half a million TAX FREE dollars? It drives you insane because you want to hold cops to a higher standard, but you remember these are still just humans.

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On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, “The Seven Five” gets an 8 out of 10.

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