Cert – 15, Run-time – 1 hour 47 minutes, Director – Joe Carnahan
A rookie cop (Alexis Louder) finds herself trying to prevent complete destruction and multiple deaths when recently arrested Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo) is hunted down by a competing hitman (Gerard Butler) and psychopath (Toby Huss).
It feels like it’s been a long time since we last saw something in the same vein as Copshop. A film where most of the cast of characters seem to somehow know each other, impacting on their intentions as we try to decipher who’s telling the truth. Or even one that leads to a grand action shootout. Perhaps the last we saw was Ben Wheatley’s excellent Free Fire. However, even that had a fairly different style and feel to it. Leading the cast of Copshop we have Alexis Louder’s rookie cop, Valerie Young. After a relatively quiet day things rapidly change on arresting Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo). Hot on his tail are hitman Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler – pulling off a not-too-bad American accent this time around) and serial-killer Anthony Lamb (Toby Huss). With the three separated by cell bars and high-security, bulletproof doors the police station quickly becomes a high-risk zone where everyone is fighting for their own life while getting at the throats of others.
While we stay with Louder for most of the film, she’s clearly built up to be the main character, it’s not always easy to connect with her due to the fact that sometimes there are so many characters in various different locations. The film jumps from place to place, or rather character to character, and it’s not always easy to connect with one specific figure, or anyone for that matter. When Louder is leading the scene she sometimes finds herself taken over by the likes of Grillo and Butler as they argue and bicker about who is actually right, who should be believed and who’s more likely to allow Officer Young to survive.
It’s clear the film appears to know that it’s busy. Just over halfway through it dispenses of many minor characters to focus on the feud between the main four or five figures at the heart of the film’s events, and a handful of newly introduced story elements. And just before the final stages this certainly feels like a rather jumpy film. As already mentioned it doesn’t allow for connection with the various figures that we see, and often the same goes for the attempts at somewhat dark humour every now and then. Things generally feel as if they could be better depicted in a short film, allowing for things to be slightly snappier and for the energy that the film seems to want to be properly reached.
Despite some well done action in the final stages of the piece, you definitely feel the drama and stakes of the large-scale (in terms of the events in the film at least) final battle and slightly wonder why the rest of the film couldn’t have been in this fairly unrestrained way. Things generally feel slightly overlong and staggered, not helped by the different locations of characters within the one police station. It prevents the potential of the film from truly coming forward, avoiding the entertainment factor that it could have – perhaps something which is boosted by the fact that it feels like something released a few years too late. Things generally feel lax and disjointed, preventing Copshop from having much effect whilst it’s on. While it doesn’t completely feel like a lengthy build-up Copshop does sometimes find itself trapped in the bars of its own cell, trying to have its voice heard over those of its handful of central characters.
Despite an enjoyable finale everything before it makes Copshop feel too busy to be able to properly engage and connect with its various characters, competing for attention in the different locations they find themselves in.