You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Film Review: ‘Down and Dangerous’

An extremely generic and empty tale of a drug smuggler toying with cops and criminals alike.


John T. Woods, Paulie Rojas, Ross Marquand, Judd Nelson, Ernie Curcio, Dusty Sorg, and Luis Robello.

The ’80s are back in cheap, imitative and soulless form with “Down and Dangerous,” a low-budget, Kickstarter-backed drug thriller from writer-director Zak Forsman. Relying on a synthesized score, over-saturated cinematography and frustratingly cliched dialogue, this is an extremely generic, truly empty tale of a drug smuggler involved with cops and criminals alike. Despite some initial teases in shot composition, nothing much sticks out beyond the generalities at play. It’s hard to believe the film will find much of an audience beyond its social-media backers.

The project’s weird background perhaps explains some of the limitations: Forsman’s father, Robert Sabbag, authored a 1998 memoir titled “Snowblind: A Brief Career in the Cocaine Trade,” which was promptly bought for movie adaptation but has yet to make it to the screen. Unable to license the rights, Forsman instead crafted this original story made in his father’s honor, although there’s hardly anything original about it.

Paul Boxer (John T. Woods) is a smuggler who, on principle, always “runs solo.” After seeing a friend shot in cold blood, he takes action by going undercover with the drug cartel that set up the hit, while also toying with the police who want him to turn and make the big bust, while also hunting down his friend’s shooter. Add to that the fact that the cartel boss’ girlfriend, Olivia (Paulie Rojas), happens to be the woman he lost years ago and who, no surprise, still has feelings for him.

Forsman never makes any of these convoluted threads particularly engaging, sticking to double-crosses, confrontations and redemptive arcs that couldn’t feel more hackneyed or familiar; the dialogue similarly ranges from tedious (“You’re in over your head”) to banal (“This is important. This is something to hold onto”). “Down and Dangerous” is clearly a tribute to Forsman’s father, but one wishes this particular protagonist didn’t feel so derivative of the hundreds of other movie characters that have come before him.

Clearly influenced by the “’80s renaissance” of Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Drive,” the occasionally minimalist staging makes good use of the widescreen frame, but these stylistic choices remain disconnected from the narrative. An early cat-and-mouse shootout in the desert is cleverly staged, but later car chases and fight sequences feel at once incoherent and budget-conscious, failing to deliver much in the way of spectacle or excitement. As shot by Addison Brock III, the blues and yellows of Los Angeles and Mexico feel overbearingly pretentious (five of the six first shots include some sort of lens flare), and the pulsating beats of Deklun’s score take on a similar monotony. Other tech credits are economically suited to the film’s slick style.

Film Review: 'Down and Dangerous'

Reviewed on Blu-ray, New York, Jan. 30, 2014. Running time: 96 MIN.


An Artis Entertainment presentation of a Sabi Co. production. Produced by Kevin K. Shah. Executive producers, Mike Altmann, Austin Lynn Austin, John E. Clark, Barry Green. Co-Producers, Jamie Cobb, Erik Reese.


Directed, written by Zak Forsman. Camera (color, widescreen, HD), Addison Brock III; editor, Jamie Cobb; music; Deklun; special effects makeup, Brian Ricketts; assistant director, Randolph Scott.


John T. Woods, Paulie Rojas, Ross Marquand, Judd Nelson, Ernie Curcio, Dusty Sorg, and Luis Robello.

More Film

  • 'Shazam!' Review: Zachary Levi is Pure

    Film Review: 'Shazam!'

    In “Shazam!,” Zachary Levi brings off something so winning it’s irresistible. He plays a square-jawed, rippling-muscled man of might, with a cheesy Day-Glo lighting bolt affixed to his chest, who projects an insanely wholesome and old-fashioned idea of what a superhero can be. But he’s also playing a breathless teenage kid on the inside, and [...]

  • WGA Agents Contract Tug of War

    Showrunners, Screenwriters Back WGA in Agency Battle, Sides to Meet Again Tuesday

    More than 750 showrunners and screenwriters have backed the WGA’s battle against talent agencies taking packaging fees and other changes to the rules governing the business relationship between agents and writers. The letter of support issued Saturday is significant because of the immense clout showrunners and prominent screenwriters possess in Hollywood. Several showrunners had recently [...]

  • Doppelgänger Red (Lupita Nyong'o) and Adelaide

    Box Office: 'Us' on Track for Second-Highest Debut of 2019 With $67 Million

    Jordan Peele’s “Us” is on its way to scaring up one of the biggest debuts of 2019, with an estimated $67 million from 3,741 North American locations. Should estimates hold, “Us” will be able to claim several milestones: the highest debut for an original horror movie (the biggest launch for any horror pic goes to [...]

  • NF_D_JGN-D6-2160.cr2

    Film Review: 'The Dirt'

    A long time ago, the words sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll carried a hint of danger. The lifestyle did, too, but I’m talking about the phrase. It used to sound cool (back around the time the word “cool” sounded cool). But sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll has long since passed into the realm [...]

  • James Newton Howard Danny Elfman

    New Trend in Concert Halls: Original Music by Movie Composers — No Film Required

    Movie and TV composers are in greater demand than ever for, surprisingly, new music for the concert hall. For decades, concert commissions for film composers were few and far between. The increasing popularity of John Williams’ film music, and his visibility as conductor of the Boston Pops in the 1980s and ’90s, led to his [...]

  • Idris Elba Netflix 'Turn Up Charlie'

    Idris Elba in Talks to Join Andy Serkis in 'Mouse Guard'

    Idris Elba is in negotiations to join Andy Serkis and Thomas Brodie-Sangster in Fox’s fantasy-action movie “Mouse Guard” with “Maze Runner’s” Wes Ball directing. Fox is planning a live-action movie through performance capture technology employed in the “Planet of the Apes” films, in which Serkis starred as the ape leader Caesar. David Peterson created, wrote, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content