By: John M Jerva
Two of my all time favorite action stars team up for one wild ride as the darkly funny and ulta-violent CopShop starring Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo and scene stealer Alexis Louder finally makes its way to theaters. A definitive throwback to the classic 70’s crime thrillers of old like Assault on Precinct 13, director Joe Carnahan does it again with style and flair as he slow burns the audience before igniting the powder keg of visceral and bloody action. Check out what I thought of the movie below!
A con artist decides to hide from an assassin inside a small-town police station. When the hit man turns up at the precinct, an unsuspecting rookie cop finds herself caught in the crosshairs.
Before I get into the movie review, I wanted to address the comments that Frank Grillo made last week in that he wasn’t happy with how his character of wily con man Teddy Murreto came across on screen. According to Grillo, alot of his performance was altered and that’s not what he wanted the audience to see from the finished product. Let me tell you that even though he wasn’t happy with it, he without a doubt still delivers and brings in a performance that you’re not used to seeing from the veteran actor. I would love to see the vision that he wanted because what we got was damn sure good enough.
With that said now lets talk about the film which hails from director Joe Carnahan and once again, he delivers in every facet of the film and manages to blend dark humor with ultra violent action set pieces and both Butler and Grillo bring it in this film and serve up a smart and chaotic dark comedy that is littered with bullet holes.
Grillo stars as con man Teddy Muretto who is on the run from some very bad people and in order to get away, he assaults rookie police officer Valerie Young played by a scene stealing Alexis Louder. Murretto has a lot of people after him and one of those individuals is ruthless professional hitman Bob Viddick played by the one and only Gerard Butler who also plays a character that we aren’t use to seeing him do. In order to get close to Teddy, Viddick gets himself arrested as well and ends up in the same isolated police department as Teddy.
Unfortunately for all involved, there’s also unhinged assassin Anthony Lamb who is played to near perfection by a scene chomping Toby Huss who is also after Muretto and the bounty on his head. Lamb doesn’t care who he mows down to get to his man and the stage is set for a free for all finale where assassins, cops and con men go for broke with bullets flying and blood flowing like it’s free.
From the very get go, Copshop comes across as a different type of movie and just like Carnahan’s over the top Smokin’ Aces, this one goes off the beat and path and you never know what to expect or who to trust as guns blaze like fireworks on the 4th of July and allegiances shift more times then one can count. Now Copshop never reaches the audacious heights of Carnahan’s cult classic crime thriller but it sure comes close.
The movie is a slow burn at the start as Carnahan establishes atmosphere and characters but like I’ve always said, if there’s pay off at the end then I’m all for some good plot build up as long as it’s fresh and smart. In the first two thirds, the actors get to gleefully work off each other and even though Butler and Grillo are top billed, it is in reality Alexis Louder’s Valerie Young who is really the core component of the flick. Young is a tough as they come rookie who has no problem keeping up with the insanity of the situation and she has some of the best moments and lines to give the audience and when all is said and done, you’ll feel her presence.
Just like Louder, Toby Huss has the most fun playing the ready to implode hitman Anthony Lamb and Huss clearly goes for broke with his performance that is equal parts funny and scary all at the same time. He’s not an especially imposing individual but that’s what makes him so dangerous and when it comes time to let it fly, Huss leaves it all hanging out in the breeze and creates the most mayhem out of anybody else in the film.
Now even though Carnahan gives both Louder and Huss a lot to do, make no mistake as it is still Butler and Grillo who have the best chemistry together and their quieter moments in the jail cell is the stuff of legends and it sets everthing up perfectly. Both men turn in bravado performances and it’s fun because you just never know what they’re up to or who’s side they’ll eventually be on. Carnahan plays it close to the chest on this one and there’s ample twists and turns that will keep the audience on their toes throughout.
Now like I said, the first half is a slow burn but the fuse is lit and it finally goes off in the last act when the police station becomes ground zero for a taut and merciless battle royale between our designated players. The bullets fly almost as much as the sharp dialogue and Valerie becomes thrown into the middle of the war at hand whre she does her best impersonation of a female Rambo. One of the best moments of the film comes when although battered and bleeding, she announces to one of her advesaries that she’s just taken an adrenaline shot and she’s feeling rambunctious. It’s a clever scene that builds to a cresendo and is punctuated by the extreme carnage that unfolds right after it.
On the negative side, I was a little bummed that Butler’s Viddick was given the least amount to do during the full tilt finale but it’s a minor gripe as he still gets his moments to shine. I just would have just liked to see him do more on the physical side but in hindsight, I feel that Carnahan made Viddick the lion in wait ready to strike at the right time.
Overall, Copshop is Carnahan in fine form and the fact that Butler and Grillo are in the same movie is the icing on the cake. Viewers will get a lot more then just mayhem out of this one and it definitely isn’t your straight forward thriller. All I hear is that movies these days never deliver something unusual and different but now here’s a movie that not only does its own thing but wraps it all up in a winner take all bloodfest that builds on the momentum of the first two thirds of the film. Copshop is a firtting homage to some of those classic 70’s crime thrillers and while it has that feel, it does its own thing at the same time and is still relevant in today’s world. Basically what I’m saying is come for what you expect but stay for everything else that it will surprise you with. A solid, bloody good time.