Down and Dangerous

John T. Woods and Paulie Rojas in "Down and Dangerous." (Artis Entertainment)

One of the unfortunate echoes of "Breaking Bad" — other than real-life-teachers-turned-meth-cooks — is the proliferation of the principled drug dealer as a character trope. It's certainly possible to make an intelligent film about a coke-peddling antihero, but writer-director Zak Forsman's "Down and Dangerous" merely exploits its cops-versus-cartels backdrop to preen its world-weary scofflaw protagonist, Paul (John T. Woods).

Unambitious to the core, "Down and Dangerous" is the perfect flu movie: It's so predictable in its beats and pedestrian in its execution that a viewer can slip in and out of consciousness, confident she won't miss much and will know exactly where in the story she is when she awakes.

That story finds Paul, a lone-wolf drug smuggler, evading a crooked federal agent (Ross Marquand) and two-timing his new business partner (Ernest Curcio), who just so happens to be the jealous new beau of Paul's ex-girlfriend (Paulie Rojas). 

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"Down and Dangerous" is never outright bad, but the script's emphasis on Paul's cool-guy tics, like teasing his acquaintances with the mystery of his first name, become increasingly wearisome. Even sillier is Paul's self-styled code of honor: He won't do business with bigots, and his strength in fairness is so great he'll throw away a gun during a fight for his life. The implausibilities rack up faster than the body count.

"Down and Dangerous." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 35 minutes. At Downtown Independent, Los Angeles.