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.