Rated: R | Running Time: 104 Minutes
From: IFC Entertainment
On DVD September 15, 2015
I think three quotes best sum up “The Seven Five,” a documentary about the largest police corruption scandal in New York City. The first relates to how it started: “Money always feels good.” The second, to how it continued: “The cops around me would never give me up.” And the third to how it ended: “Welcome to east New York. Welcome to the land of fuck.”
Back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, Michael Dowd became a police officer gone bad, and he helped a lot of other police officers go bad, built mostly on the unwritten police code of never ratting out a fellow officer, as well as the lure of easy money. The documentary brings in interviews with Dowd, his partner, Kenny Eurell, as well as various other figures involved in the corruption, all detailing their involvement in either the actual crimes, or the investigations that led to the eventual arrest of Michael.
Opening with Dowd testifying at a commission on the corruption in the New York Police department, we learn that police code of officers sticking together begins right at the start, built mostly on the “survival” concept of the streets. Michael opens up a lot about how things went, how one day he was hurting for money, pulled over a drug dude, let the drug dude pay him off with a couple of hundred bucks, and “I drove away like I was going to get arrested. I didn’t. I won.” And so it began.
Pilfering money at drug busts to start, eventually Dowd, schooled in the streets and already corrupt, ends up paired with Kenny Eurell, a rookie cop, who also gets wrapped up in the web of Mike. Things quickly begin to escalate for the pair, especially as Mike gets wrapped up with the drug dealers, beginning with Chelo, who Mike feels screws him over, so he ends up teaming up with Diaz, who is quoted as, “From day one Mike didn’t have that cop look.” Diaz paid Mike weekly for information and protection, and Mike was all to happy to help, especially as the weekly allotments led to Mike being able to expand on things by starting his own drug dealing, and his own being a thug.
“The Seven Five” is a riveting look at how a dude gets sucked into the corruption world, how things escalate, how one starts to feel invincible, and eventually how that invincibility leads to their downfall, especially when they trust their crime world to incompetents, namely those that do something stupid to get caught, and then they start blabbing things like the guy in charge is “Mike the Cop” who drives a red corvette. Then, of course, there is that old adage of “Don’t get high on your own supply,” which Mike didn’t follow as drugs and alcohol also becomes a problem for him.
Another interesting aspect of the documentary is how people can recognize who people are inside just by looking at them. For examples there was Diaz, able to see the difference between Mike accepting money and being corrupt, but knowing Kenny still had “officer” in him. Another example was an Internal Affairs officer, after seeing Mike for the first time just walking by, thinking “Perp” when it was a man in a police officer uniform. Some people are just able to do that.
In the end Mike and his crew gets busted thanks in large part to Kenny who turned informant when Mike took things a little too far, even for Kenny, in the drug world.
I didn’t find much wrong with this documentary, and was pretty much sucked in right from the start. It really played out like a movie, but what made it really work were the interviews mostly because everyone involved appeared to say just about everything related with their story, from their perspective, and how all of the stories intertwined.
“The Seven Five” is a fantastic look at corruption. How it starts, how it grows, and how it collapses. It’s put together in a great way to intertwine the stories, and doesn’t hold back on some of the images involved in the life the cops lead, both the good ones, and the bad ones, and the consequences for all involved in their actions. It’s 4 1/2 stars out of 5 for “The Seven Five.”
That’s it for this one! L8R!!