FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: “Cop Car” is the film I saw tonight, and it stars Kevin Bacon (Footloose , Apollo 13), Hays Wellford (Strive [short], Before the Snow), James Freedson-Jackson (Blacklist [TV series], Sibs [short]), Camryn Manheim (The Practice [TV series], Ghost Whisperer [TV series]), Shea Whigham (Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle), and Kyra Sedgwick (Phenomenon, Gamer). It is directed by Jon Watts (Clown, The Onion News Network [TV series]) who also co-wrote it with Christopher D. Ford (Robot & Frank, Clown). It follows two children named Harrison (Wellford) and Travis (Freedson-Jackson) who come across an abandoned cop car as they are running away from home. Thinking of this discovery as a great opportunity, Harrison and Travis take the car as their own and have fun with it. Little did they know that the cop car belongs to the worst cop to deal with: Sheriff Kretzer (Bacon). He’s a broken cop who is trying to cover up a dark secret and stealing his cop car wasn’t the best thing for Harrison and Travis to do. Now Kretzer is on a hunt to find his stolen car, hoping no one finds what is inside it.
This was a movie that I wanted to watch after seeing the trailer, but turned away as I read the reviews for it. What were the reviews like? Well, not that good at all. On Redbox.com, it got an average of two stars out of five. The consensus was that the story was slow and there was nothing going for it. It’s hard to go against the crowd when choosing something because peer pressure is tough. I’m not going to go out of my way to see a movie that’s told to be awful. The reason why I am telling you this is because I wanted to paint a picture as to what the stakes were of seeing this flick and how I could’ve probably wasted a night on a bland movie. With that in mind, let me say that this isn’t as bad as what critics or people say. I was bracing for the impact of the smell of popcorn burning, but what I got was a moderately juicy release. What I noticed firsthand with this picture is influenced of the Coen brothers. It is extremely evident in the story of how it feels like a Coen would write it. Granted, it’s not as well-written as what they create, but it has a thought process like theirs. You can also tell the respect for Coens out of the cinematography, which I loved. The landscape is of a rustic town with barren grass fields, and judging by what goes on in this movie, it is low budgeted. But it works in their favor because it gives a sense of realism, “nothing too out there,” although some of it boils to the surface once the ending approaches (but I’ll talk about that later). The director loves to focus on small details that get brought back up in another scene, some items representing a big consequence when they are later brought up. I like this sense of filmmaking for I did catch on to it early on. One example would be the beer bottle on top of the cop car that was given a close up. It was later revealed in a flashback which gave the filmmaker the opportunity of letting us realize it was a flashback without making any transitions or telling the audience. I enjoy things like that, for they are fun to look back on. The story itself was interesting. I’ve never seen one like it for, like I said, the main subject of this flick is something small (a cop car), but yet it expands into a deep and dark tale. There weren’t many characters in this movie, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because it didn’t need anymore than the ones they used. I thought the best character was the sheriff portrayed by Kevin Bacon, but that’s mainly because he’s the only character with a real agenda/conflict. The other personas were okay to watch. Both Harrison and Travis were good to watch as they were the brainless kids that are caught in the crossfire of the real conflict. The woman, Bev (Manheim), took a while to get used to however, and I think that’ll be my first con. Although she served a great purpose towards the end that gave meaning to her character and an aspect of the story, everything else that centered on her was meaningless and a waste of runtime. She didn’t provide much to the story other than one aspect towards the final twenty minutes. The acting was fine as well. You can’t expect much out of the kid actors and they did the best they could. I thought they did okay for having not much experience. Kevin Bacon did a great job and the other adults had pretty solid performances as well. When talking about cons, that’s where things can get complicated. As I sat down to watch this, the first twenty to thirty minutes were incredibly slow. Some parts in that time zone were interesting, but the very beginning lost traction fast. It focused more on Harrison and Travis and their bonding, but that was just it. I was watching two kids walking a field for a good ten minutes, just cussing because they thought it was bad and they were living on the edge. It got old, and I was ready to move into the next scene fast. It only took until they found the car for the pace to pick up. When it did, that’s were the good score came in. This movie had an almost wicked third act that involved a small shoot out that I couldn’t help, but love. It reminded me so much of the Coen brothers and it was the best part of this movie. Once this scene ended, however, that’s where more cons appeared. What was at first something that could be taken as realism became something Hollywoodish. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say that I almost laughed at one line that Kevin Bacon says that reminds me of the 80s action flicks. The momentum spiraled downward quick and I was upset of how things turned out. I will say that if you watch this film, it ends on a cliff hanger. Because I know there won’t be a sequel, I was frustrated on the way they left it. It’s really hard to grade something on account of a bad or mediocre ending, even if most of the movie was good. The ending is the icing on the cake and who wants to eat a cake with rank icing? The finale wasn’t enough to obliterate the picture, but it more so diminished any really good standing it had. Any other issues I have of this movie are minor, like the fact that kids below ten can automatically figure out how to drive a cop car, but are too dumb to figure out anything else. Overall, this is a moderately good release that had some fantastic moments, referring back to a Coen’s way of thinking. I enjoyed it, but I wish it ended on a better note. FINAL SCORE: 77%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: