You have to know exactly what you are doing to pull off an effective cop drama in a scant fifteen minutes. Writer/director Marc Powers has a good idea of what he wants to do, but time is not on his side, and his film suffers for it.
Alex (Tim Gato) is an undercover cop who is about to be presented with the deal of a lifetime. The moral swamp he’s sinking in is whether he’ll stay true to the force or turn his back on the law. This has been the nature of many a cop tale, and as mentioned earlier, fifteen minutes is hardly enough time to dive into the tale, but there are other factors working against this film here, factors that could have made this a little better.
First and foremost is that Powers wastes what little time he has. How does he manage to do that? There is an “atmosphere” setting scene with a band (most likely comprised of members who are friends of someone involved with the film) that goes on for far too long. The scene doesn’t even effectively set the atmosphere (hence the quotes), as the generic brand of metal the band plays does little more than establish that a metal band is playing at the club at which Alex is making his deal.
The other problem is that Alex’s plight never seems like that big of a deal. The main reason is because we hardly know this undercover officer. We are never given a real glimpse into his life, motivations, dreams, fears and so on. Had we known all that, we may have been able to feel his moral crisis. Then there’s the little matter of the police sitting outside the club just waiting to make the bust. It seems inconceivable that Alex, who by default must have some iota of intelligence to be involved in undercover work, would try to take a drug dealer’s offer with officers both in and out of the club. (He’s also wired, but remedies that situation in the most idiotic and suspicious of ways.) He can’t leave without being seen and will at some point have to report to them. Instead of focusing on Alex, viewers are forced to wonder whether or not Powers has the nerve to really pull off the scene.
When it comes to movies, it’s a crime to be instantly forgettable. “Across the Line” is guilty of that here, and there isn’t a lawyer in the world good enough to get that charge dismissed.