“DETECTIVE KNIGHT: INDEPENDENCE | Chapter Three of the KNIGHT Trilogy “ - starring Bruce Willis - AmNews Curtain Raiser


Sunday, January 15, 2023

“DETECTIVE KNIGHT: INDEPENDENCE | Chapter Three of the KNIGHT Trilogy “ - starring Bruce Willis


It’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that actor  Bruce Willis was once one of the biggest blockbuster stars on the planet. Pulling down millions of dollars to appear in an action film and carving out his place in cinematic history. 

Fast-forward to 2023 with a full acknowledgment that time is a cruel taskmaster, and now the very same Bruce Willis is the star of the direct-to-video release “Detective Knight: Independence” directed by Edward Drake who has stepped up to help Willis restart his career. 

“Detective Knight: Independence” is a low-budget film that does not look cheap thanks to cinematographer Laffrey Witbrod. Shot in 7 days in Las Cruces, New Mexico.  This marked the ninth time Edward Drake worked with Bruce. 

It’s easy to see how this got funded. It’s a paint-by-the-numbers thriller but it takes a while to get to the point. It opens with a bank robbery in progress. And we are re-introduced to  Detective Knight, Dezi (Jack Kilmer), and Ally (Willow Shields), two gifted paramedics who make saving people look good. One of the paramedics, Dezi, has long dreamed of wearing the Blue but wasn’t permitted entrance into the world of law enforcement. This slight makes him salty feeling that he’s not admired for saving lives. But to his surprise, a patient that he kept alive 

lodges a complaint against him. It crushes Dezi who slides into a frenzy, stealing a cop uniform and a revolver. Empowered by a false sense of authority he starts roaming around the streets, acting like a Police Officer, and eventually decides to rob a bank. 

So now, our audience knows more about the people and the pulsating emotions underneath his behavior. You can imagine — it’s a mess waiting to get messier. 

Bruce Willis, as Dt. Knight seems inserted into the action, well, because he’s the lead of the movie and it’s his job. “DETECTIVE KNIGHT: INDEPENDENCE | Chapter Three of the KNIGHT Trilogy “ — seems to be borrowing (or, trying to) some of the best elements from other thrillers. In that, there’s nothing really deep going on and dialogue is sparse — often used as fillers to get to the action. 

On a deeper side perhaps we can review this through the lens of examining the spectrums of American Law Enforcement Officers; the good ones and the bad ones. 

On a scale of 1 to 10, with ten being the highest, I would give this film a solid five. Would I ever pay money to watch this in a theater, the answer is no. Would I purchase or download this movie on a streaming service, again, the answer is no. Would I watch “DETECTIVE KNIGHT: INDEPENDENCE | Chapter Three of the KNIGHT Trilogy” if I were on a long, long, long flight to a faraway destination, the answer is yes. It would get me to my destination without any complications and leave me without a single emotion that lingers.

“DETECTIVE KNIGHT: INDEPENDENCE | Chapter Three of the KNIGHT Trilogy “ starring Bruce Willis, Lochlyn Munro, Jack Kilmer, Willow Shields, Jimmy Jean-Louis, and Timothy V. Murphy.  

Director's Statement: Edward Drake

INDEPENDENCE was initially supposed to be the first of the trilogy. But ultimately, the decision was made to, instead, end the trilogy with this installment. I'm grateful to cinematographer Laffrey Witbrod. He captured this crime drama with a keen eye for the raw realism of everyday life in Los Angeles.  

I shot the opening credit sequence on my iPhone during post-production. I wanted to show how seeing law enforcement and paramedics in action is an everyday occurrence of living in Los Angles. The choice to black out the eyes of the officers, victims, EMTs, and pedestrians was a way to show we're all anonymous in this city. One day you're on top, the next day some EMT is scraping your brains off the road.  

INDEPENDENCE is a film about perspective. Dezi (Jack Kilmer) is seeking greater meaning to his life and has become disillusioned with how effective police officers are. Dezi recognizes the power of the badge but fails to understand the responsibilities. After allowing himself to be brainwashed, Dezi's murderous attempt to become a Dark Knight (see what I did there?) for Los Angeles can only be stopped by Knight (Bruce Willis). The conceit of the film comes down to dueling ideas of justice: can Knight live up to the oath of bringing justice to Los Angeles–which can mean protecting victims from themselves–or will he seek revenge on Dezi and use his privileged status as a cop to cover his motives? 

Thank you to Lionsgate and to the producers for their enthusiasm in ensuring the final chapter of the KNIGHT trilogy, capping off Mr. Willis' career, is a memorable experience for the audiences. It takes an army to make a film, without the cast and crew, this wouldn't have been possible.

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