Detective Knight: Independence (2023) Review
Detective Knight: Independence completes the trilogy begun in Detective Knight: Rogue and continued in Detective Knight: Redemption. Although not the last of his films to be released, Assassin is slated for release in March, these were the last ones Bruce Willis made before announcing his retirement. So in a sense, it also concludes its star’s career.
The film opens with a bank robbery shot from the POV of the robbers making it look like a first-person shooter, be sure to get the tie-in edition of Bank Robber Simulator at your local Gamestop. The robbery comes to a bloody end with Detective Knight (Bruce Willis, Cosmic Sin, White Elephant) shooting the last of the gang while he holds a woman hostage.
Also on the scene are paramedics Dezi (Jack Kilmer, Lords of Chaos, Body Brokers) and Ally (Willow Shields, The Hunger Games, Spinning Out). Dezi always wanted to be a cop but got turned down as mentally unfit, which should tell you just how fucked up he is. To cut entirely too long of a story short, Dezi ends up stealing a uniform and gun and playing vigilante, something Willis should understand having starred in the Death Wish reboot.
In keeping with the films’ holiday themes, Detective Knight: Independence takes place on the Fourth of July as Dezi comes into conflict with Knight, Fitzgerald (Lochlyn Munro, Scary Movie, Margaux), Sango (Jimmy Jean-Louis, The Outer Wild, The Grey Man) and the rest of L.A.’s finest.
Edward Drake (Gasoline Alley, Animals) once again directs from a script he wrote with story input from Corey Large (The Ninth Passenger, Breach). This time out, whether due to artistic ambition or lack of money to stage action scenes, he seems to be trying to make a more character-driven film that draws comparisons between Knight and his adversary.
Both are first responders. Knight is under investigation for endangering the hostage, Dezi loses his job after a complaint is filed against him. Dezi had a shitty father (Timothy V. Murphy, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Hell Hath No Fury), Knight is a shitty father. Most importantly both are willing to go outside of the law to deliver what they consider justice.
Unfortunately, Drake is too busy playing with the camera, giving us montages and split screen shots to develop the concept of them being two sides of the same coin. Not that that would be a particularly original concept, but it’s better than leaving it half-developed. He also doesn’t take full advantage of an unhinged vigilante dressed in a police uniform. Someone should have made Drake and Large watch the Maniac Cop trilogy before they wrote Detective Knight: Independence.
Granted Detective Knight: Independence is better than the previous film, but that’s not to say it’s a particularly good film. The characters are too shallow for the film to make the points it seems to be trying to make and the action scenes are too few and too bland to deliver much in the way of thrills. The most interesting thing about them is the opening one is shot like a video game and during the robbery that ends the film Grand Theft Auto is referenced.
But there are some amusing exchanges of dialogue here and there as well as a couple of good performances from Kilmer, yes he’s Val’s son although Willow Shields is no relation to Brooke, Murphy, and Dina Meyer (Dead in Tombstone, Piranha 3D) as Chief Burnham. It’s not nearly enough to save Detective Knight: Independence, but if you go in with sufficiently low expectations you might be entertained.
Lionsgate releases Detective Knight: Independence today in select theaters as well as on VOD and Digital platforms. You can get a DVD or Blu-ray on February 28th.