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Cop Land (1997).

May 1, 2007

The Scoop:
James Mangold’s film packs a punch. Oh, sure, it has it’s flaws — namely, Sylvester Stallone’s lunkheaded acting (the role presented a bigger physical stretch for him, with its self-induced “flabbiness,” than an acting stretch), the mere presence of Michael Rapaport, and that constant pet peeve of mine, having characters talk to themselves as a means of exposition — but these shortcomings don’t amount to much when compared to the rest of the movie.

Sly’s character Freddy is the sheriff of Garrison, New Jersey, a small town just across the river from New York City and populated almost entirely by crooked NYPD officers. An old injury has kept Freddy from realizing his dream of working in the City, so he must occupy himself with turning a blind eye to the actions of the cops on the take. Eventually, the moral abuses pile up too high and Freddy must make a critical decision.

The cast of Oscar-caliber heavyweights do what they do best, and it’s great to see Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel play off each other again, two and a half decades after “Mean Streets” (1973), even if it is only for one scene. Unfortunately, De Niro’s small role does not also give him the opportunity to reunite with Cathy Moriarity, who plays Keitel’s wife and was De Niro’s costar in “Raging Bull” (1980).

Despite the “Joisey” trappings and the heavy debt to Martin Scorcese’s ’70s work, the film is, at heart, a classic western — the sheriff must clean up his small town by taking on a gang of gun-toting desperadoes by himself. Here, the “cowboy” mentality of many cops is given a more literal rendering and the elastic conventions of the movie western are enlarged even futher.

Best Line:
“Being right is not a bullet-proof vest, Freddy!”

Side Note:
Stallone gained 40 pounds for the role, and was only paid scale.

Companion Viewing:
“High Noon” (1952).

Henancius Entertainment.

Take a Look:
Here’s the trailer, although the audio doesn’t appear to be synced right:

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