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Review: The documentary ‘Fallen’ zeroes in on the police officers who have died in the line of duty

A scene from the documentary "Fallen."
(Gravitas Ventures)

It’s a given that what cops experience day in and day out is difficult for citizens to fully comprehend, especially when most news about them covers their worst moments, either their deaths in the line of duty or the violence of their own actions. Ex-lawman Thomas Marchese’s documentary “Fallen” is interested in sympathy for police as it pertains to the former, and in so doing has crafted a slick, mournful, feature-length recruitment video for a job he sees as unsung, heroic and dangerous.

Recent tragedies from coast to coast are detailed, and the grieving spouses/partners/chiefs interviewed by Marchese make for touching footage. (The filmmaker himself had to end his career when he was stabbed by a suspect.) But don’t mistake “Fallen” for an insider’s examination of the job’s rigors, its pitfalls, and what can be done about safety and use of force.

There’s an air of defensiveness here, with a lot of interviewed cops starting off saying “What people don’t understand …” and narrator Michael Chiklis — an interesting choice, considering the bad apple crime fighter he played on “The Shield” — stepping up the gravity in his voice when comparing cop killings to soldier fatalities in combat. (It’s a shoddy, offensive comparison, implying that militarizing police, and convincing us that cops think of their job as warfare, is Marchese’s aim.) Had a minimal effort been made to address policing controversies in the context of an honest argument that the job is grueling and perilous, “Fallen” might have been more powerful.

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‘Fallen’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 16 minutes

Not rated

Playing: Arena Cinelounge Sunset, Hollywood

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