Copshop is director Joe Carnahan’s first feature film in roughly seven years. He co-wrote the script along with Kurt McLeod, the latter of which is debuting as a feature writer. The movie can often succeed as a detail-oriented homage to grindhouse films, but it ultimately falls flat due to odd pacing and a convoluted story.
Teddy is a con artist trying to hide out after his latest scheme. His plan: get arrested and detained at a small-town police station. However, the assassin who’s pursuing him, Bob, decides to get detained at that same police station. They both bide their time in neighboring cells while Valerie, a rookie cop, attempts to deal with the chaos to come. This is a fun premise that has a lot of promise for smart dialogue, violence, and tension.
While the writing starts out decently strong, featuring some fast-paced exposition, it can often fall into cliches. These moments make the movie feel cheap, almost like an imitation of similar movies in the genre. From here, the pacing slows down, and a lot of the tension that the premise warrants is slowly squandered.
The movie features a fairly strong cast, consisting of actors like Frank Grillo and Gerard Butler who play Teddy and Bob respectively. They both fit into their roles snugly and have mostly decent chemistry together. However, Alexis Louder, who plays Valerie, is the highlight of the film. While it’s not perfect, she does a great job of taking on this role and interacting with her co-stars. This is one of her first prominent film roles, and I look forward to what she does in the future.
As mentioned before, there are a few twists in the narrative that are fun, but they end up making the narrative unnecessarily convoluted. It’s hard to truly enjoy all the action, chaos, violence, and blood when the motivations and relationships are muddled by a script that doesn’t care to flesh everything out properly. Despite its flaws, this movie does benefit from its camerawork from cinematographer Juanmi Azpiroz. It has a retro-feel that pairs very well with the overall aesthetic of the film. Even though it’s messy under the surface, it film works very well on a superficial and visual level.
Copshop has some fun action and grindhouse vibes, but the script doesn’t take full advantage of its premise. It has a strong performance from Louder, but it’s yet another mid-tier action film from writer and director Joe Carnahan.
Copshop is in theaters September 17.