“Cop Car” (2014)
Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford) have decided to run away. The best of friends, Harrison is the more reserved of the two. Travis is more daring and outgoing than Harrison. They make a good team and determine that they have walked about 50 miles. The boys stumble across an abandoned sheriff’s cruiser in the middle of nowhere. After a series of dares, they discover that not only is the car unlocked, but the keys are inside and decide to go for a ride. They can barely see over the hood of the car, but improve at driving the car, even if they haven’t mastered the idea of parking the car before switching who is driving. The boys are having a blast.
In a flashback, we see why the car has been left. It seems that Sheriff Kretzer (Kevin Bacon) needs to dispose a body. He pulls the body out of the trunk and proceeds to drag it to an isolated spot where he dumps the body into a man-made hole. Once the body is disposed, he goes back to the car, which is missing. The sheriff realizes his mistake of leaving the keys, and now he needs to find who stole his car before anyone else. Not only has the sheriff lost his car, there is another body in the trunk.
Director Jon Watts, who co-wrote the screenplay with Christopher D. Ford, brings out the best in his cast. The two boys, Welftford and Freedson-Jackson play well off each other, and Watts lets the boys be boys, as they look like there are having a blast driving around in a police car. Bacon is perfect as the menacing sheriff. We know the instant that we meet him that he is not to be annoyed. The sheriff is certainly someone who will do anything to survive. Watts does a masterful job of creating tension, whether it’s the boys trying to figure out how the guns that the sheriff left behind work, or the inevitable meeting between the boys and sheriff. Most of the time is a subtle tension that builds as we know something is going to go wrong. We just don’t know when. Watts handles action sequences with relish, and many of the scenes with the boys driving are thrilling to watch.
The film’s second half of the story just isn’t as compelling or fascinating as the first part. The film becomes a cat and mouse game with a very ambiguous ending that is downright frustrating. Overall, the cast and the film’s excellent pace make up for that ending, making the film an engaging and sometimes amusing film with an acute style that slowly creates tension.
“Cop Car” is an interesting take on the modern western. The boys are in way over their heads as soon as they find the car, and they don’t know it. The main bad guy knows that his whole world could tumble down if he can’t find his car. They are on a collision course that we just know is not going to end well. My Rating: Full Price
My movie rating system from Best to Worst: 1). I Would Pay to See it Again 2). Full Price 3). Bargain Matinee 4). Cable 5). You Would Have to Pay Me to See it Again
“Cop Car” is playing exclusively in Atlanta at the Plaza Theatre
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