Cop Land Reviews
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.
Copland is a slowly paced story that although may lack the massive
thrills some other films promise, you still get a smartly written story
intertwined with some vicious characters and a small town Cop that just
want's some justice and respect in his community.
The story as I say is smartly done and can be very much enjoyed(I mean
that in the way that it is interesting more than fun). Stallone's
character seems composed and I felt he knew what he was doing even when
the cards are against him it seemed, but yes all round the story is
good and I think this film is underrated as I have seen some say it is
just Stallone walking around a lot, it it much more than that.
The Director James Mangold well to say this his first punt at directing
it goes down very well and expectant things were thought of him, now
whether not he ever did do better it doesn't matter because this film
is a solid kind of good film. I particularly liked the script as
without it the film would have crashed, thoroughly written well and
seemed to match each character perfectly which I guess goes to who ever
cast such actors.
Stallone and Keitel are the stars in truth of this and they perform
well throughout the entire film, now with Keitel it is maybe known for
him to do such things but Stallone is playing in a slightly subdued
role from some of his others and we really see the range of which he
can act and that he doesn't require violence in every film he's in. A
mention to one of the best that is Robert De Niro who plays his
character with mystery and intrigue who knows something is wrong before
we seem to know.
It is not without it's criticisms as it can seem to lack revelations,
you know what the deal of the film is and who is bad and good within
the first quarter of the film, but we don't get shocks and I felt there
was space for such things. I also will say that although it is
thrilling, the thrill side is more Drama than action and well I say
this to anyone who wants' to see it, don't expect loads of action from
The most memorable thing about this film to be fair is Stallone's
performance in a light role but also I thought a lot about the mystery
surrounding it not finding out who is bad but the mystery of saying to
yourself "how will it all end", you won't predict it all because just
as you think the film is ending it throws a curveball and put's you off
course, just watch it and you will definitely see what I mean by that.
So overall a good film and moving upwards towards being very good
rather than falling to being just pretty good, I recommended this for
any person who enjoys a good police drama with just a little action
dabbled in. People expect too much of Stallone action wise well don't I
mean as I say he is subdued and is basically in invisible chains in
this from breaking free and killing Keitel's character right where he
I give this a high 7/10, that overall give's it a Solidly Good film rating and
moving towards being very good indeed as well, I suggest renting it or
whatever you can do to see this, but have a look and see and I feel you
will enjoy it, well maybe.