Police may be violent, but they're responding to a violent world, according to "ACAB: All Cops are Bastards," Stefano Sollima's debut feature after helming popular TV series "Romanzo Criminale."

Police may be violent, but they’re responding to a violent world, according to “ACAB: All Cops are Bastards,” Stefano Sollima’s debut feature after helming popular TV series “Romanzo Criminale.” With cinematic discussion about police brutality at the 2001 G8 conference at a high, it’s inevitable a pic would explain rather than criticize the fact that officers get their kicks from, well, kicking. “ACAB” is slick, with a driving rhythm and plenty of action, but its apologia for sadism is troubling. Local sales have been strong for a drama (nearly $4 million); some Euro circuits may call.

Whether responding to disruptive union protestors or soccer hooligans, cops live under constant threat of attack. In response, they band together into a tight fraternity and beat the crap out of anyone who even looks at them funny. Cobra (Pierfrancesco Favino), with his Celtic Cross tattoo and Mussolini wall decorations, is the most violent; he and his Roman buds welcome newbie Adriano (Domenico Diele) into their ranks, but the tenderfoot questions the cops’ vigilante justice. Working with TV d.p. collaborator Paolo Carnera, Sollima crafts a dark, steely netherworld, replete with appropriately pounding tunes.

ACAB: All Cops Are Bastards

Italy-France

Production

A 01 Distribution (in Italy) release of a Cattleya, Babe Films production, in association with Fastfilm, in collaboration with Rai Cinema. Produced by Riccardo Tozzi, Giovanni Stabilini, Marco Chimenz. Executive producer, Gina Gardini. Co-producer, Fabio Conversi. Directed by Stefano Sollima. Screenplay, Daniele Cesarano, Barbara Petronio, Leonardo Valenti, based on the book by Carlo Bonini.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Paolo Carnera; editor, Patrizio Marone; music, Mokadelic; production designer, Paola Comencini; costume designer, Veronica Fragola. Reviewed at Cinema Adriano, Rome, Feb. 7, 2012. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Pierfrancesco Favino, Filippo Nigro, Marcio Giallini, Andrea Sartoretti, Domenico Diele, Roberta Spagnuolo, Eugenio Mastandrea, Eradis Josende Oberto, Livio Beshir. (Italian dialogue)

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