One facet of filmmaking I particularly adore is the element of surprise. You can enter a cinema with a firm idea of what will unfold, only to exit the darkness a couple of hours later, wide-eyed and drop-jawed at the wonders of imaginative storytelling. Sometimes, a movie works on a far more basic level, doing exactly what it says on the tin. These tend to star Bruce Willis or Dwayne Johnson and involve an explosion or 80. They can be as rewarding to the movie-goer as a complex art-house indie flick when executed with skill and panache.
Gritty crime thriller Badge of Honor (Fox Action Movies, Saturday at 10pm) falls into neither of those categories. It is not quite as obvious as Police Academy or Snakes on a Plane, but you don't need much imagination to know what to expect from a movie with a synopsis that reads, "Two narcotics detectives find themselves in an intense investigation … after a child is wrongfully shot dead in a violent drug bust."
Now, I think the important question here must be, is there a rightful way of shooting dead a child?
Mena Suvari (far right; American Beauty) stars as Jessica Dawson, an internal affairs agent sent to investigate police corruption after a drugs raid goes brutally wrong. David Miles and Mike Gallo (portrayed by guys who are forever destined to play roles even Colin Farrell deems beneath him) are the hard-nosed detectives at the centre of her investigation, but as Dawson edges closer to rooting out the crooked cops, she finds herself in danger.
The action scenes are violent - and wildly unrealistic; it appears you have to shoot someone nine or 10 times before they lay down and die - but they do little to mask the by-the-numbers plot and clunky dialogue ("How deep does the rabbit hole go?" one grizzled cop says to another. "As deep as it needs to," says the other, almost indistinguishable officer).
While you may not regret investing a couple of hours with Badge of Honor, don't switch on looking for any surprises.