THE SEVEN FIVE (2015, Tiller Russell)
A lot of narrative features based on true stories are so disappointing you wish they would be documentaries. Here’s a documentary you wish would be a narrative feature. Not that Russell’s doc can’t stand on its own, but the tale is gripping enough that it could be aestheticized with some more imagery other than talking heads and stock footage.
Still, as a portrait of corruption in the NYPD, it’s engaging and fun to follow. And like most movies of this type (and one of its flaws is that it’s derivative of so many other genre films in cinema history), it seduces you with the glamor of crime at first, it has a colorful villain (Diaz is the MVP), and then twists the knife to show its downfall. But aside from a few jump cuts and Scorsese-inspired freeze frames, there isn’t a lot here we haven’t seen before, even if the specifics are new. It does keep one plot point a secret, but more of that kind of intrusion and playfulness with form might have turned a decent doc into a really good one.