by George Wolf
Man, did I hear about it last week when I argued that the first two acts of Malignant weren’t nearly strong enough to support the all out lunacy of the finale. I stand by that, but moving on…
Copshop also delivers a balls-out third act, but the self-aware setup by director/co-writer Joe Carnahan ensures we’re plenty ready to surrender to the shoot-em-up fun.
Mob “fixer” Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo) punches Nevada rookie cop Valerie Young (Alexis Louder) on purpose, looking for the safety of a jail cell. He gets one, but he’s soon followed by hitman Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler, also a producer), who wants to get close enough to Teddy to take him out.
Plenty more bad guys get involved – including a scene-stealing Toby Huss (Seinfeld‘s “The Wiz”) as a psycho who likes to spray bullets and sing soul classics – and before long it seems Val’s only chance of getting out of work alive is deciding which one of these locked up bad guys is worth trusting.
Grillo and Butler are both on tough-guy autopilot, charismatic and menacing with a smidge of possible empathy. But Louder (TV’s Watchmen) is the standout, finding the layers of a character that’s real, smart and savvy enough to holster this movie and claim it for her own.
The dialog often snaps with wit, the banter touching on everything from Chris Hemsworth’s beach getaway to the benefits of cole slaw. But this is an action flick first, and Carnahan (Boss Level, The Grey, Smokin’ Aces) rolls out well-staged and satisfying set pieces that strike a nice balance between tense and preposterous.
The grindhouse Western opening not only introduces us to the setting of Gun Creek, Nevada (subtle!), but also a playful and purposeful tone that Carnahan steers with impressive craftsmanship.
Are you gonna remember Copshop much past closing time? Probably not, but you’re gonna have a bloody good time before you clock out.