HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Cop Car
HTS Overall Score:75
It seems that more and more films are making a splash in the VOD market instead of going straight to video or making a theatrical appearance. “Cop Car” is the latest in this ever widening list of titles. Well, I should amend this slightly, as “Cop Car” actually made it to a few indie theaters in April while it was dumped mainly onto VOD. More and more GOOD titles are actually making good use of the market, being that without that boost on cable or streaming ppv they would be relegated to a straight to video grave or passed over completely. Titles like “Get the Gringo” and “Cop Car” rise above the DTV mess, and while they may not be as big budget as your average blockbuster, their appeal is strong and limited studio control allows their directors a little more creative freedom. I had NO idea what the movie was about going into the film, and was very pleasantly surprised by the coming of age tail contained within.
Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford) are two 10 year old boys who’ve decided to “run away”. Meandering their way into the countryside of an unknown country area, the boys are ready to make their way in the world with nothing but a few sticks and an extra-long Slim Jim for sustenance. Low and behold the boys stumble upon a seemingly abandoned cop car. Being 10 years old and stupid (I mean, they’ve already decided to runaway for no apparent reason) they gather up enough courage to take the cop car out for a joyride. I’m pretty sure you can guess that a cop car wasn’t abandoned. Flashing back a little bit we see the corrupt Sherriff Kretzer (Kevin Bacon) dragging a body from the trunk of the car into the surrounding desert. Disposing of the body takes some time, and once the corrupt Sherriff comes back, he discovers the theft of his car.
Being that the Sherriff isn’t exactly supposed to LOSE his car, let alone the fact that he’s left something VERY important in the trunk, Kretzer decides that it’s best that the rest of his force doesn’t need to know about the issue. Striking out on his own to find the boys, a deadly game of cat and mouse is played, with the unsuspecting joyriders caught in the middle.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=54178[/img]“Cop Car” cruises along at a very lackadaisical pace, focusing on tight, up close photography that borders on claustrophobic at times. Winding its way down the highway and then intermingling explosive and brutal acts of violence that pushes the viewer back into their seats. I was puzzled just how far they were going to take this cop car being stolen routine, as the premise just seems to be pushing the boundaries of believability. It doesn’t take more than 20 minutes to figure out that the scenario is just a ruse by the director, switching gears on us rather drastically and changing the entire purpose of the film. Almost a 70’s style thriller, Director Jon Watts crafts a well done drama that focuses on the boys coming of age in a starkly brutal world, as well as a criminal thriller that keeps you wondering who’s going to make it and who’s going die.
You might be thinking that the boys are totally ignored once the crime thriller aspect of the movie takes off, but if you watch closely you see that it’s very much focused on the boys, with one boy in particular taking the majority of the focus. At the beginning of the film Harrison is the follower. Obviously taking his queues from Travis, from touching the cop car, to getting in the vehicle, even his language is dominated by the alpha male. However, as the plot unfolds it forces Harrison to grow up a little, take charge and in the end become the alpha, even if it’s something he’s not used to.
The film is very tight nit, with only 4-5 main characters in the film. Kevin Bacon plays the corrupt law officer, and does so with a great panache. I was expecting him to play the character a bit over the top, but interestingly enough he keeps himself very restrained, even when he goes complete psycho at the end. While we don’t SEE her, Kyra Sedgwick plays the voice of his dispatch operator. Shea Whigham isn’t give a lot of screen time, but as the “man” (no other description for him), he’s vicious, cruel and scared at the same time. James and Hays do a fantastic job as the two 10 year olds, not because they’re incredible child actors, but because they remind me of ACTUAL 10 year olds. No stilted acting, just a couple of scared kids who ACT like real kids. Camryn Manheim makes a small appearance as the slightly crazed Beverly, and gives her usual all in the role.
Rated R for language, violence and brief drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=54186[/img]Despite being slightly desaturated, “Cop Car” comes to Blu-ray disc with a simply fantastic encode. Colors are a bit lean here, as I mentioned it looks a little desaturated, but there is still plenty of color to be seen. The brightly lit outback that Kretzler uses to bury the body is full of green grasses, and brown earth. The rest of the time the image is a bit dusky and yellowish, with lots of earthy tones. There are some splashes of primary, mostly bright reds when you see a character bleed. Contrast is a bit hot, and skin tones look surprisingly natural, despite the hot contrasts. Blacks are deep and inky, with no signs of artifacting or crush to be seen. The final home stretch of the movie looks exquisite, with bright headlamps piercing the pitch black during the car chase. Simply put, the disc couldn’t look any better, considering all of the stylistic grading going on.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=54194[/img]There is a lone 5.1 DTS-HD MA track on board, and it does an excellent job at replicating the very tense environment of the thriller. There is a lot of “down” time during the movie, where there’s not a whole lot going on but dialog, or the quite background noise of the road, as the two kids drive the cop car around the countryside. Vocals are crisp and clear, with strong presence in the center channel, and the rest of the speakers are given a goodly amount to do, even during said quieter scenes. LFE can be tight and powerful, showing up at unexpected times, and especially at the more appropriate times, adding weight to gunfire and car crashes alike. Sometimes the track can get a little front heavy, as the dialog takes over, but that’s the nature of this type of film. Solid from start to finish.
• Their First and Last Ride: The Making of "Cop Car"
“Cop Car” is an interesting and steady paced little thriller, intent on recreating the golden age of the 70’s and 80’s in these modern times. Expertly shot (the director has even been given the reigns of the new “Spiderman” movie thanks to this film), and well-acted, “Cop Car” is an enjoyable film that really gives more than I expected it to. Kevin Bacon seems to know how to pick a good role, and he really gives the sleazy character his all. Audio and video are excellent, and despite the lack of any real extras, I still give it a solid recommendation as a good watch.
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Shea Whigham, Camryn Manheim, Joseph Oliveira
Directed by: Jon Watts
Written by: Jon Watts, Christopher D. Ford
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 88 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: September 29th 2015
Buy Cop Car On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Check it Out
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