Movies. I used to be obsessed with them. I was the guy that could tell you what year they came out, who produced them and at least two of the stars. It was terrible. Of all the things I could have a knack for, what could be more useless than movie trivia? An economic adviser maybe, but they’d be a close tie, I bet.
I think I love their obvious ability to transport you out of your mind for a little while and give it a rest…that escape they provide, and their ability to turn the thinking switch off that sometimes runs hot enough to melt the wires off and cause an occasional fire in the brain.
It also helped that at the height of said obsession I neither owned a house nor had a career (or a girlfriend, come to think of it). There’s still a spark of curiosity now and then that drags me into a theater so long as it isn’t about the empowerment of a woman (“yawn”), the inevitable loss of a fishing vessel (“Perfect Storm” still pisses me off 12 years later. What was the point?!) or involves Chris Rock in a role that doesn’t contain foul language in the script.
My favorite? Zombie flicks. The primal nature of survival at its purest just does it for me. (And I suppose it’s the only way to put a twist on seeing two decades worth of otherwise uninteresting dead people.)
My least favorite? Cop movies. Any of you work at Volkswagen, or have jobs in construction? Ok. Want to use your spare time watching movies about Volkswagen manufacture or framing and turnkey construction jobs? Me neither. So I saw both Dredd 3D and End of Watch this week. Judge Dredd was among the first comic books of its kind in the late 70’s, and it was among the earliest influences that precluded even the possibility of me wanting to be a cop. In this future era, most of America is a nuclear wasteland and cities were consolidated into places the size of states. Crime was so rampant that cops were turned into judge, jury and executioner to keep some degree of order. They catch the perp, dictate their sentence, ask them their plea and it’s on to the next. How…cool.
So thank God that doesn’t exist. Mindless popcorn entertainment aside, it really made me appreciate the real-world separation of law enforcement and the judiciary. Hell, the potential for corruption in one or the other is frightening as it is. Can you imagine if they were combined? It’s not that I dislike the current state of humanity, but people are shitty enough without absolute power to corrupt them absolutely. We do have a system that works. It’s flawed and the human element and random chance definitely have their way with it now and then, but like Inspector Callahan himself once said, ”It may not be perfect, but it’s all we got.” And unlike Dirty Harry, while fanatically devoted to “The Law”, Judge Dredd never broke the rules. I found that comforting amidst the explosions, slow-motion blood spatter, and one-liners.
As for End of Watch?
At this, I pause. Written by the same person who gave us the first brilliant 45 minutes of Training Day (ignore the remaining 45 minutes), you would be hard pressed to find more realistic dialogue between two partnered cops and what they see and do. I was hooked. And after it was over, I wished I hadn’t seen it. No, literally. I would have gone to some pretty extreme lengths to scrub that movie from my brain. All I can hope to do is keep family and close friends from seeing it. I mean that too. It’s too real. If you know a cop, rent The Wire, but don’t regret seeing this movie like my dumb ass did.
Back to our regularly scheduled programming next week. ‘Till then? Stay safe. I mean that literally, too.
Alex Teach is a full-time police officer of nearly 20 years experience. The opinions expressed are his own. Follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/alex.teach.