The heady days of rampant NYPD corruption are recalled in "The Seven Five," a documentary that painstakingly revives the story of Officer Michael Dowd, his cronies in the East New York precinct and their illicit activities throughout the 1980s and early '90s.
It's made with flair by filmmaker Tiller Russell, who gets Dowd, his former partner Ken Eurell, convicted drug kingpin Adam Diaz and others to share stories of marauding through the crime-strewn streets, lining their pockets with money and drugs through elaborate shakedowns.
Dowd, testifying before Mayor David Dinkins' anti-police corruption commission, says he felt he worked for both the NYPD and Diaz.
The movie is a nostalgia trip about that experience, complete with excited testimony and file footage of an apocalyptic Brooklyn that bares no resemblance to the beloved borough today. These guys have some incredible stories, suffused with a cocky attitude born from their incredulity at having gotten away with it for so long.
The tone is off, though. Dowd shows hardly a glimmer of regret. There's very little perspective applied to where these guys figure in the broad historical terrain of corruption in the department. The movie is unavoidably swept up in the excitement and the dangers, but the question of why this story needed to be told is never answered.