Cop Land Reviews
Stallone once again delivers a great performance backed up by top support from DeNiro and Keitel. Possibly the best gangster film that's not about gangsters.
Always worth staying up late to watch on Channel 4.
(Full review coming soon)
A New Jersey community is filled with New York City police officers that have formed their own law and way of life in this small town. The sheriff was handpicked and turns a blind eye to the NYPD until one of the police officer's lives is at risk. When the internal affairs department turns their back on him, the sheriff will have to take matters into his own hands.
"In for a penny in for a pound."
James Mangold, director of Walk the Line; Identity; Girl, Interrupter; 3:10 to Yuma; The Wolverine; Kate and Leopold; Heavy; and the upcoming Seducing Ingrid Bergman, delivers Cop Land. The storyline for this picture has some real interesting subplots mixed into the primary storyline and reminded me of a poor man's Heat. The cast delivers very solid performances and includes Sylvestor Stallone, Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Michael Rapaport, Harvey Keitel, Robert Patrick, Janeane Garofalo, and Peter Berg.
"I can't hear you."
I always really liked this movie and thought it was a bit underrated. I recently came across this on Netflix and decided to watch it again for the first time in a long time...I still thoroughly enjoyed this. This may be a hair step down from Heat, but just a hair (both are not as good as the Town). Nevertheless, I strongly recommend seeing this once.
"If he doesn't like my garbage then he should stop soiling my sheets."
The problem with Cop Land, is that it's full of cops. Well there is that, but in all seriousness, for any fan of the crime genre they will find there are two things that are unavoidable when looking over the cast of the film. One, is legendary director Martin Scorsese and the regulars that feature in his work: There is, of course, DeNiro and Keitel (who need no introduction) but there's also Liotta (Goodfellas), Cathy Moriarty (Raging Bull) and Frank Vincent who appears in both the latter two (as well as Casino). Vincent also brings me to the other unavoidable thing... the finest television series on the subject; The Sopranos. By my count, there's no less than ten cast members that are recognisable throughout six seasons and those well versed will notice; Carmela, Paulie, Arty Buco and Vincent's Phil Leotardo, among others.
The New Jersey town of Garrison is populated by cops from the NYPD who have set up their own community to live in peace. As intended, it's a community that doesn't need policing but still employs local Sheriff, Freddy Heflin (Sylvester Stallone) to oversee things. Freddy always wanted to join the police force but was prevented from doing so because of a childhood accident that left him partially deaf. However, when Ray Donlan (Harvey Keitel) and his corrupt activities begin to surface it brings it to the attention of Internal Affairs Agent Moe Tilden (Robert DeNiro) who may just have the policeman's job opportunity that Freddy has coveted.
Narratively, the film starts very strongly and draws you into the murky depths of police corruption and cops ruling cops. Director James Mangold also seems to know what he's doing; he builds the tension slowly and assuredly and introduces his characters at precise moments. It's not long before we realise Keitel is one of the shady one's and firmly in control of his environment. Stallone also happens to establish himself quickly by playing firmly against type. The whole premise of the film is built around Sly and the, seeming inability, to do the job he's been denominated for. It's quite a distance from most of his action-hero work but it's the supporting roles of a strung out Liotta and doggedly determined DeNiro that really bring shape to the whole corrupt debacle.
All of the supporting players are brilliantly placed but it's, unsurprisingly, the aforementioned four actors that drive the film. Liotta, Keitel and DeNiro deliver the high calibre expected from them but the biggest surprise is Stallone. He's wise enough to sit back and let the heavyweights chew the scenery while he subtly underplays it and brings a touching vulnerability to his afflicted Sheriff.
With an abundance of talent on display you might ask why Cop Land doesn't entirely work? Quite simply, it's a generic and formulaic story. The leads do what they can - and they all get their moment to shine - but the lack of three dimensional characterisation and some redundant plot strands only allow them to go so far. However, despite Mangold's inability to come up with a solid script, his handling of events and a who's-who cast are very diligently attuned. It's also worth noting that the denouement is impressively intense in a High-Noon homage with Mangold, very skilfully, utilising Freddie's hearing impairment to the utmost effect and manages to turn, what would normally be considered a Hollywood hokum get-out, into a refreshing and satisfying showdown.
Alas, Cop Land is not the sum of it's parts. It had the potential to be a classic but ends up just another attempt at a genre that so many have covered to better results. That said, it's hard to argue with the cast and the solid performances but because it's easy to see the potential this film had, it makes it all the more frustrating that it doesn't quite achieve it. It's good, but it could've been great. As it goes, the problem with Cop Land is that it's not full of cops, the problem with Cop Land is that's it's full of quality actors working under restrained and clichéd material.
The talent in this film is ridiculous, it's the who's who of gangster/cop dramas. The story isn't anything new.