Sometime in the 1970's, police officers from New York City wanted a safe haven to live, away from the dangers of the streets of New York City, this is when they established a "Cop Land" in the small New Jersey town of Garrison. Freddy Heflin who was always admired by the New York cops wanted to become one, but because he was deaf in one ear this prevents him from achieving his goal, but has become sheriff of Garrison. Recently there have been a dark omen surrounding the NYPD, and Freddy is now investigating on this case, then Internal Affairs officer Mo Tilden is also on the case and asks Freddy for help, but Freddy could not. Now Freddy suspects that a New York City cop named Ray Donlan might be one of the many cops who is corrupted by the mob and other criminals. Now, Freddy must find a cop who is nicknamed "Superboy" who can testify against Donlan and protect him, before Donlan finds Superboy and kills him.Written by
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
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