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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I loved this movie when I first saw it in 1997 in the theaters, and I have
recently bought the DVD. I still love this movie. This is definitely one
of the most underrated movies of the 1990's. Stallone puts in a really
understated and sympathetic yet still powerful performance as an
out-of-shape, half-deaf sheriff of a sleepy New Jersey town populated almost
entirely of corrupt NYPD cops. The cast is magnificent, with such
powerhouses as Harvey Keitel, Robert DeNiro and Ray Liotta. Liotta,
especially, is superb as a coked-out, morally ambiguous former right-hand
man to Keitel who is trying to get out of this circle of corruption.
I realize that many people have found the shoot-out ending to be a tad distasteful, but I argue that it actually fits the movie quite well. Stallone's Heflin character is by no means a Sherlock Holmes. He is a simple man with a heart of gold caught in a very tough situation. He doesn't have the brains nor the resources to solve his problem with a brilliant plan -- but he's got balls, and most importantly he's got heart. His solution is direct, and unfortunately, dangerous. The fact that he is going to butt heads directly with the corrupt cops in his town is inevitable. Much like Billy Bob Thornton's character in the movie Sling Blade, we are expecting it. We are hoping for it.
Absolutely powerful and thrilling. I heartily recommend it to everyone who also enjoyed movies like Goodfellas, and Serpico, if just to catch the top-knotch performances by Stallone, DeNiro and Liotta.
Cop Land is written and directed by James Mangold with an ensemble cast
featuring Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De
Niro, Robert Patrick, Peter Berg, and Michael Rapaport. Distributed by
Miramax Films it features a musical score by Howard Shore.
Freddy Heflin (Stallone) is the sheriff of Garrison, New Jersey. A small satellite town across the river from the Big Apple where many of the big city cops reside. Freddy always wanted to be a big city cop but due to partial deafness was unable to make the grade. But when a hero white cop shoots dead two black youths it sets off a series of events that make Freddy realise that the big city cops in Garrison aren't as honest as he is. Thus Freddy must decide if he should get involved.
It was heralded as the film to break Stallone on to the A list of serious actors, and the film where a fine ensemble had gathered and worked for a basic scale wage-such was their faith in the material. Yet in spite of making a considerable profit at the box office and receiving generally favourable reviews, Cop Land seemed to vanish without trace before it could make its mark in the cop/drama genre. A lot of that can probably be put down to the sheer weight of expectation, considering the cast involved, for something out of the top draw. However, revisiting the film now, over ten years post its release, Mangold's movie shows itself to be the tight and intelligent picture it is.
From the off it's evident that there's very little good about the town of Garrison. The coppers drink and drive, cheat on their partners and the sheriff looks like an out of work, overweight slob. Mangold clearly is more about the bleak than the beautiful. As the narrative and characterisations move forward, a multitude of strands start to dangle on the screen-where it at first appears a bit too chocked-but ultimately unfolds with ease as the story progresses. Here's where Cop Land excels, it could so easily have just been another good cop/bad cop movie, one where the doofus partially afflicted guy saves the day. But Cop Land is more intimate in detail of its characters, intimacy that is boosted by a pretty flawless cast (notably Stallone & Liotta). There's healthy helpings of action and drama, but it's the dialogue driven confrontations that entertain the most; where we get the pleasure of watching acting heavyweights battle for supremacy.
With a slow burn sense of doom hanging over it from the off, Cop Land very much feels like a throwback to the adult westerns and film noirs from the 1950s. There's nothing wrong with that of course, in fact it's a compliment. But this deserves its own little niche, that of the contemporary crime thriller with urban western overtones. A damn fine film with a great thoughtful script, that is acted accordingly and directed without flab and pointless filler. 8/10
I just saw Cop Land for the first time this evening. I watched the
"Exclusive Director's Cut" DVD.
This is one of the greatest films I have ever seen. Sylvester Stallone, who I've never thought was much of an actor, gives the performance of his career - a performance that deserved the Academy Award for Best Actor. Incredible. I owe the great Stallone a big apology for not seeing his gift of acting before now.
Everyone in this film, including Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, Janeane Garofalo, and Ray Liotta, gave stellar performances as well. I guess paying all the actors just scale brought the best out of everyone. Why this modern day "High Noon" doesn't have a higher rating from the IMDb voters like me is way beyond my comprehension. Cop Land deserves, at least, inclusion in the Top 250 films. Perhaps this cut that I just saw is much better than the original theatrical release.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Seldom does a cast, story, and location come together so well as it
does in this film. Sylvester Stallone plays a meek and mild sheriff
whose small town, located across the GWB from NYC, is primarily
populated by NYPD cops who took advantage of an administrative
manipulation in order to live outside the city limits. In order to do
this, they opened their precinct up to the mob, enabling the mob to
obtain drugs seized by the cops in return for low-interest loans to buy
otherwise unaffordable housing in the serene town of Garrison, New
Jersey. The ring leader of the corrupt cops is Ray Donlan, played w/
admirable frankness by Harvey Keitel, who was once a noble officer but
now serves as the main conduit between NYC mobsters and the precinct he
This film's message is a stunning encouragement to garner the courage to do what is right despite the risks involved. Robert DeNiro, in his best supporting performance as an Internal Affairs agent, is the catalyst that inspires Stallone's Sheriff Heflin, who has long admired NYPD but cannot join their ranks due to partial deafness, to take a good look around him and bring down his amoral benefactors before they end the life of a fellow officer. Ray Liotta is brilliant as a morally bankrupt undercover agent whose internal struggles between loyalty to his own interests and the memory of his dead partner (killed by a member of Donlan's network) keep him at bay until realization of his own demons enable him to risk all and aid Sheriff Heflin in his newfound quest.
This story unfolds against the backdrop of a modern-day dilemma faced by city cops - should they be forced to live in the crime-swamped cities they serve or should they be enabled to live elsewhere, for their own safety and the safety of their families? Also, this film admirably addresses the personal dilemma faced by public servants like Freddy Heflin - should Heflin, whose eternal dream to become a cop was granted to the furthest extent possible by Donlan's gift of a sheriff's position, sacrifice his own well-being by doing the right thing and turning on Donlan and co. or should he continue to quietly serve as a member of Donlan's nefarious network? Perhaps the best scene in the film is not even found in the original version but rather the Special Edition Director's Cut where Stallone and Keitel have a confrontation at the Four Aces (the local pub exclusively reserved for Garrison's NYPD pop.). Stallone exhibits his disgust and dismay at the true nature of Garrison and Keitel barks "Who the f*** do you think you are?" Stallone replies "The Sheriff of Garrison, New Jersey." The climax and finale exhibit not only the costs of sacrificing one's comfort for what is right but also the rewards.
***SPOILERS*** Leaving the Scores nightclub after a bachelor party for
a fellow three seven precinct cop young Murrary "Superboy" Babitch,
Michael Rapaport, gets in his car and drives to the George Washington
Bridge on his way home to Garrison NJ.
As Babitch enters the bridge he's side-swiped by a car with two coke-heads that almost up-ends him. Moving along side the out-of-control car one of the occupants pull out what looks like a shotgun, it turned out to be a steering wheel club. As Babitch hits the breaks the car speeds away only to get blasted by Babitch from behind killing the two in the getaway car.
As the police and ambulance crews come on the scene they find that the two who Babitch shot dead were unarmed and that he may well be not only thrown out of the NYPD but have to serve time for homicide which cause Babitch to get very emotional. Before you know it he jumps to his death off the bridge, or did he? His body was never found.
Speeding through the town of Garrison the next day NYPD policemen Ray Dolan & Jack Rucker, Harvey Keitel & Robert Patrick, are stooped by the towns Sheriff Freddy Heflin and his deputy Cindy Betts, Sylvester Stallone and Janeane Garofalo. After Deputy Betts is given a lecture by the two cop on how she should be out looking to arrest criminals not giving tickets to fellow cops Freddy lets them leave without being ticketed. As the car drives away Freddy notices that the "dead" Babitch is in the back seat and that he's very much alive.
Police corruption and murder is the main theme of "Cop Land" with a cover up of a cop's suicide that unearths all the dirt that was swept under the rug in Garrison and in the 37th precinct over the last ten years. Financing the three seven precinct's cops houses in Garrison with low or no interest loans and the forgiving and forgetting about paying them off had the entire precinct working for the mob. Thus allowing the mob to push drugs and launder the drug money within it's, the three seven precinct, jurisdiction.
Not believing that Babitch is dead Interanal Affair let. Moe Tilden, Robert De Niro, starts to put the heat on the cops who are sticking to the story of Babtich sudden demise. Tildon starts to make some headway in the case which makes Donlan & Co. very nervous. They realize that they have to provide a body for the police investigation of Babitch's death to close the case. That body was to be that of Babitch himself!
Top notch police drama with Sylvester Stallone giving the best performance of his career as the sad-sack Freddy Heflin. Freddy because of an ear injury couldn't make the grade as a real cop and always looked up to the men of the three seven as his hero's. That's until he found out that they were anything but. With Babitch on the run after Dolan & Co. tried to murder him Freddy finds him hiding in a water tower with Figgys(Ray Liotta), another cop from Garrison, providing him with food and water. Friggy's also has it in for Dolan and his fellow corrupt cops for the murder of his partner Glenn Tunney three years ago.
Tunney was about to talk to a grand jury about police corruption and was mysteriously found murdered in his prison cell before he could testify. Figgsy correctly suspected it was Dolan who had Tunney done in. Freddy realizing that he has to talk to let. Tliden about what he knows but is told that the investigation was shut down by the mayor due to the pressure of the NYPD union. Which was ironic since the fact that it was Dolan, and his fellow cops, attempt to murder Babtich that made Freddy see the light! In the end Freddy had the whole bunch of dirty cops gunned down in a wild shoot-out. Freddy pull it all off with the help of Figgsy, in a "High Noon" like shootout on the, up until then, quite streets and crime-free and peaceful Garrison NJ. It turned out that if the criminal cops just waited another day or so they would have gotten away Scott-free with no one, like Sheriff Freddy Heflin, being motivated to uncover their criminal actions.
The movie "Cop Land" was a bit uneven and some of the plot-lines just didn't tie all the loose ends in the film together. The acting, especially that of Sylvester Stallone, more then made up for that and that's what makes "Cop Land" one of the best movie about police corruption ever made.
Copland was a treat of a film. The cast was the best we had seen in any
Hollywood film in years and there was no reason that this film could go
wrong and even though it was a brilliant film I somehow felt quite
disappointed when the film credits started to roll.
I was looking forward to finally seeing Stallone show off his acting abilities as he has been very miss treated by the critics but looking at films like this and Rocky will just tell you that he can act. Then you got Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta and Robert De Niro thrown into the mix, where can you go wrong, I would say James Mangold. His job wasn't that bad, but I think the film should been handed to a more experienced director. Scorsese or Michael Mann would have been the best choice to make this film as they both know how to get the emotions going and the characters flowing, but like I said this movie still impressed me in many many ways, one is Sylvester Stallone.
No one could have been Sheriff Freddy Heflin except for Sly. He brought so much to the character and never gived it up. Some say it was his comeback film, I would say it was the film where he had to prove a point about his acting and he sure did it with elegance and grace and I don't think I have ever come across somebody has never been moved or amazed by his performance. Freddy is the local sheriff who abides by the law but his dream is to be apart of the boys in blue but because of a disability where he is deaf in one ear he sadly cannot be a cop, only a local town sheriff, but it's not his town. Ray played by Keitel and his merry men run the town of Jersey. As they are all police officers no one questions there lives and motives towards their jobs, till Freddy starts to smell something fishy and entails the help of De Niro who plays a detective wanting to bring Ray down. The story unfolds and there are many things to look out for but the pace of the movie seems quite confused towards the end as it doesn't seem to have much special to add. The beginning and middle are excellent and let the movie go along fantastically but you just see the end coming really and it was like the script writer ran out of ideas which seems to be the case in many films we see nowadays and this sadly was one of them. Still Ray Liotta adds the spice to the movie and makes it extra special and doesn't make the movie a complete downfall. I am yet to see the new directors cut but from what I heard there isn't much to notice as far as new scenes go but I will try and get my hands on it to see whether the movie has been improved but till then I will say that Copland has top notch flawless acting by everyone all round especially Liotta and Stallone and has a great story that could have gone much further but it didn't so I will leave it there.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Cop Land" is a tense story about corrupt cops, cover-ups and a small
town sheriff who goes through a remarkable transition. With its
all-star cast, some great performances and an intriguing plot, this
movie's engaging right from the start but then becomes even more
gripping as its characters are gradually introduced and begin to
interact with each other.
The small town of Garrison, New Jersey, which is located just across the river from New York City, is popularly referred to "Cop Land" because it's populated mainly by NYPD officers who find its suburban tranquillity provides a pleasant contrast to the areas in which they work during the day. Garrison, however, is soon revealed to be more than just an idyllic retreat, as it's actually populated by corrupt cops who are routinely paid to operate in accordance with the requirements of important crime bosses who have also rewarded them by putting up the money for their houses.
Lieutenant Ray Donlan (Harvey Keitel) is the leader of Garrison's rogue cops and effectively runs the town. His nephew Murray "Superboy" Babitch (Michael Rapaport) is a young cop who gets involved in an incident which ends with him shooting and killing two black teenagers. When it becomes clear that the young men were unarmed and Murray starts panicking about what the repercussions might be, Ray assists by faking his nephew's suicide and this seems to defuse the situation.
A short time later, NYPD Internal Affairs investigator Lieutenant Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro) arrives in Garrison and tries to persuade local Sheriff Freddy Heflin (Sylvester Stallone) to help him by providing information about Ray's shady activities but Freddy declines out of loyalty to Ray and his associates. This effectively ends Tilden's investigation as Garrison is technically outside of his jurisdiction and also he's been pressured by some of Ray's connections in high places to drop his investigation unless he can provide some hard evidence to support his suspicions.
Garrison's Sheriff admires the cops who live in his town and regularly turns a blind eye to their wrongdoings. He's aware of Murray Babitch's presence in the town and remains unconcerned until it becomes evident that Ray's decided to have Murray killed. Ray considers this to be necessary because until his nephew's body is found, the police investigations are likely to continue and they, in turn, could jeopardise his whole business.
Freddy Heflin is a well meaning character who avoids conflict and is virtually powerless as he's controlled by Ray. He's rather timid, extremely overweight and given little respect by the men that he admires so much. He's also experienced many disappointments in the past. He's in love with Liz Randone (Annabella Sciorra) a woman who he saved from drowning some years ago. It was during this act of courage that he suffered an injury which left him deaf in one ear and this disability prevented him from achieving his ambition to become a cop in the big city.
Freddy goes to Tilden to tell him what he wanted to know about Ray and his sidekicks but Tilden is no longer interested. As he's leaving the building, Freddy sees some discarded documents relating to Tilden's investigation and soon learns more about Ray's involvement in a wide range of criminal activities. This motivates Freddy to take on Ray and his gang in what turns out to be an exciting shootout.
Sylvester Stallone's portrayal of Freddy is incredibly sensitive as he conveys so strongly the despair and sadness of a good natured man whose been left emotionally devastated by his past experiences. The transformation he goes through when he decides to take on Ray and his gang is terrific and made convincing by the sheer quality of Stallone's acting. The cast in this movie deliver top class performances all round, but Stallone, Harvey Keitel and Ray Liotta's contributions really stand out as being exceptionally powerful.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Robert
Patrick, Michael Rappaport, Noah Emmerich, Janeane Garofalo, John
Spencer, Frank Vincent, and Peter Berg. Here are all of the well-known
stars in the riveting thriller, Cop Land. If you don't know their
names, you sure will know their faces. Movies with this many stars are
bound to be good, and this follows that rule. But the many stars is
just icing on the cake.
Many people dissed Cop Land for having too many subplots and the regular plot to be too complex. Tell me, isn't that what made LA Confidential so great? Isn't that why The Matrix was a sci-fi masterpiece? Wasn't that Hitchcock's favourite thing to do? Let me say: IT WAS! The general story is a half-deaf Sheriff in a New Jersey suburb named Freddy Heflin (Stallone), is always respected by his peers and residents of the town which mostly consist of NYC cops. When Officer Ray Donlan's (Keitel) nephew, Murray "Superboy" Babitch (Rappaport) kills ignorant speeders and commits suicide, Internal Affairs' Moe Tilden (De Niro) assigns Freddy to the case as everybody knows the suicide is a hoax. Freddy doesn't think much of it, until he discovers the truth about his friends and the whole town. Freddy wants to uphold the law, but is fairly warned by his loyal, and somewhat crooked friend, Gary (Liotta). I know that what my summarization is long, but it is no different than any movie I mentioned earlier in this review.
Cop Land is Sylvester Stallone's comeback performance. He never left, he just got on a string of dumb action movies and was losing touch in the later Rocky and Rambo movies. Before Cobra, everybody knew Stallone to be a great actor. The days of Paradise Alley, FIST, Rocky, and Lords of Flatbush proved that Stallone was destined to greatness. He did get popularity and lots of movies, but poor reception after becoming a sellout. Cop Land was to show the world that Stallone has not lost his touch in acting, and that he can still act like he did twenty years earlier. Of course Rocky is his best role and performance, but his role as Freddy Heflin in Cop Land is right behind it. Nobody could have played Freddy Heflin better. There's no wisecracks, or cheesy looks, or anything that Stallone usually has. He is a confused and determined cop whose life is in great danger. In fact, he was so good, he deserved an Oscar nomination. 1997 was a very competitive year for movies, but I'm saying that he deserved a nomination. A nomination for acting's greatest prize is almost as good as the actual win.
It is rare for people to step out of their comfort bubble. Even actors,
for as successful as they are, they too suffer from breaking what they
are comfortable at performing in. Here's a film that not every Stallone
fan might see everyday - similarly to that of The Truman Show (1998) a
year later with Jim Carrey. This particular role is so far in left
field for Sylvester Stallone that it almost seems like the wrong
choice. When in fact, it proves that Stallone by far can still back a
punch even when he's not pulling a trigger every five minutes.
Stallone plays Freddy Heflin, the Sheriff of a small town in New Jersey called Garrison. All seems fine and well with the town and Freddy himself until an incident occurs on the George Washington bridge that connects the New York and New Jersey police departments. After the problems arise, Freddy is challenged on his thoughts and beliefs that he had never considered before. This is where things get interesting and dangerous simultaneously. As time goes on, Heflin begins to dig and as he digs, he discovers that everything is not as he thought.
The writing is something to behold here. Directed and written by James Mangold, the same man behind Walk the Line (2005), 3:10 to Yuma (2007) and most recently The Wolverine (2013), created a screenplay that not only defies the normal typecasts that most actors have, but also adds depth to the main character of Freddy Helfin. If it weren't for any of the background given to Stallone's character, the audience would have no idea about Heflin's past and why he acts the way he is in the movie. When it is revealed though, it's a heartfelt story that contains a lot of emotion. Even more interesting is how little Stallone uses a gun. Not only is Stallone overweight but he barely even raises his voice - which is rare. The character of Heflin is very self contained and covers it up well.
Also playing a role that is out his usual casting role is Ray Liotta. For anyone who's not familiar, Liotta frequently plays scumbags and creeps. A good example of this is from Unlawful Entry (1992) and a bad example is from Turbulence (1997). But what wasn't seen coming was Liotta playing not only a supporting character but also a tactical one. There is one scene where he explains to Stallone's character how he should take on convicted felons and the advice he gives is extremely noteworthy. Liotta, you should be doing this more often my friend. Along with him are Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro, future director Peter Berg, Robert Patrick, Noah Emmerich from The Truman Show (1998) (how coincidental!), and just for laughs Mr. RoboCop 3 (1993) himself, Robert John Burke. All the actors, even the ones not mentioned do a fine job.
What also makes this movie a fish out of water role for Sylvester Stallone is how human the story makes him look. This isn't a movie where Stallone mows down villains with a rapid-fire gun without taking any hits. Stallone's character is flawed and limited, humanizing him for the entire running time. That's something serious. Adding to the realism of the story is the cinematography where most scenes take place in the suburbs or along the shore outside the city. Finally what helps complete this feeling is Howard Shore's score to the film. It isn't the strongest of film music but it does contain some very simple themes that help bring out the emotion of various scenes. Overall a very strong drama / thriller.
It's not your regular Stallone shoot 'em up and that's fine. The entire cast in the movie performs great. The music isn't complex but is well supported by a strong cast and character driven story.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Just picked this gem up for the Kyle collection. Every time i watch this flick it seems to get better and better. Awesome performances from the entire cast, even a very passive Stallone (something Im not used too) Stallone plays Sheriff Freddy Heflin, years ago he saved one of his town's people in an underwater car accident and injured his ear which pretty much kept him from enrolling within the N.Y.P.D. He did however become sheriff of a town named Garrison that was built for NYPD cops and their families with the sole intention of keeping them away from all the scum and bad guys where they work. Freddy is the perfect pick for Sheriff, he's quiet, not a mean bone in his body, and as the NYPD put it..As dumb as a rake...or is he??? I mean how hard could it be watching over a town of cops?No one in their right mind is going to start anything there.The problem is the cops themselves, taking deals with the mob, stashing incriminating evidence and when one of their own shoots up two black males passing through in a botched up pull over they have to pull the ultimate cover up...Maybe even taking out one or two of their own crew in the process??? This movie was bashed heavily by the critics (who as far as i am concerned don't know their butts from a hole in the ground!!) If you are a fan of cop dramas as I am, make sure you give this a look you wont be disappointed.
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