COPSHOP Is A Fun Action Flick Worth Your Time (Review)
A lot of folks claim “they don’t make em’ like they used too” when it comes to movies. The truth is there are more movies being produced now than ever before and the odds are pretty good that whatever you’re looking for is out there. Often they end up flopping because folks show up to the big budget “spectacle” fare, forgetting that all good movies play better on the big screen. Sometimes they get released in few theaters or go straight to streaming (where they become buried under a mountain of “content”). Well, if you’re looking for a solid B-Movie cop flick, then Copshop is here to please.
Not too many years ago I’d say a film like Copshop was destined to become a bit of a cult classic. That would have given me solace that it was completely ignored at the box office. The film opened to a paltry $2.3 million despite opening in over 3,000 theaters (that’s really bad) and is looking to close with below $5.5M overall. At least that’s more than double its opening weekend, so it isn’t *quite* the worst case scenario, but it’s far from good considering the only new big game in town for all of September was Shang-Chi.
Look, movies flop all the time, that’s just destined to happen. What sucks is I’m not so sure it will find any meaningful audience in post theatrical either. The physical media market is going the way of vinyl, where it’s cool to own for film nerds and still appeals to people nostalgic for being able to hold products they own in their hands (both of these apply to me). This means there won’t be a “discovery” of the film on DVD/Blu-ray (or heck VHS) as was common in days gone by.
As for finding an audience on streaming, there are so many movies available on so many streaming services that wherever Copshop eventually ends up, it probably won’t stand out. Especially in a world where most streamers are more interested in promoting their original content or blockbuster hits they aquire than solid under the radar flicks. There’s still a ton of value in a movie going to theaters, as it builds awareness and adds an extra layer to the marketing campaign. However, there’s clearly a lack of awareness around this movie from general audiences, despite starring action star Gerard Butler (whose “Fallen” franchise has become a reliable set of mid-level hits).
So let me set it up for you. The movie is centered around Alexis Louder, who plays Valerie Young, a cop in small town Nevada. She ends up being caught between Teddy (Frank Grillo), a man she arrests early in the evening, and Viddick (Gerard Butler), a man who seems to have gotten himself arrested on purpose in an effort to kill Teddy. Louder does a fine job at portraying a woman trying to do the right thing and stick to the law. She’s driven by her sense of duty, and willing to step against whatever this night throws her way.
I don’t want to reveal too many details, as I walked into this movie having never seen the trailer and knowing very little about it. It is most definitely fun to experience an old school action thriller this way. The road to discovering who to trust and who wants to kill who and why is sometimes obvious, but fun to watch unfold nevertheless. Butler brings his usual sly charisma to his grizzled character, and always feels like the biggest badass in the room. He and his co-star Grillo spend much of the film behind bars in separate cells, but they remain interesting to watch the entire time. Butler has definitely found his stride of late, with his recent films being surprisingly good (Angel Has Fallen and *especially* last years Greenland come to mind).
Grillo, an actor I believe is always a nice addition to any flick, gets to play someone a *little* different from his usual characters. His standard role is as someone who can kick most people’s asses or someone who has the confidence to fight basically anyone. Here he is always worried for his well being and concerned about others he cares about. Apparently his role was trimmed down a decent bit, something that Grillo has admitted ticked him off. He believes his role had much more nuance in the director’s original cut, before the studio came in and cut the film to their liking.
I can see how his character could have had more depth in a longer version of the movie, but I still believe Mr. Grillo delivers a rather good performance. It doesn’t feel out of place in the style of the movie, which often plays like a hard nosed 70’s action movie. Still, based on what he’s said, I’d be very curious to see that “director’s cut” on a Blu-ray or VOD/steaming release, as director Joe Carnahan is also pissed his version isn’t the one being released.
Either way, Carnahan (who also directed The Grey, 2010’s The A-Team, and Smokin’ Aces) still manages to direct the heck out of this movie. The shoot outs are slick and easy to follow, dialogue heavy scenes never get boring, and he finds subtle ways to keep the camera moving so even the many scenes set in the same room don’t look the same. As you may have guessed, yes, almost the entire flick takes place in the police station, a la Assault On Precinct 13. Carnahan and Grillo recently worked together on Boss Level, which takes a “Groundhog Day” type set up and applies to the action comedy genre. That movie is over the top in the best way, self-aware, and often funny. So I can see how the two would have a sense of camaraderie about their next movie together not being released with their preferred cut. Still, I hope they can find solace in the fact that it’s a solid film and can find some sense of pride in it.
I believe this and Boss Level are among the better efforts from Carnahan. They both avoid the excess present in Smokin’ Aces, which derailed the plot and connection to the characters for me (even if it had several fun moments). He’s always been a director worth keeping an eye on, but now he has two films in a row that really nail their concept and tone. Do some characters make dumb choices a couple times in the film? Sure, but it often leads to something quite fun to watch. As for the cast, most deliver solidly, and it’s a great showcase for the little known Alexis Louder, who I hope to see much more of in the future. There’s also a character that comes into play later in the movie, portrayed by Toby Huss, and I need to give him a shout out. He provides the film with a great boost in the third act. The fun he has with his role is abundantly clear and infectious. Give Copshop a chance when it comes VOD or however it becomes available. Especially if action movies and/or cop thrillers are up your alley.