REVIEW: Copshop [2021]

Rating: 7 out of 10.
  • Rating: R | Runtime: 107 minutes
    Release Date: September 17th, 2021 (USA)
    Studio: Briarcliff Entertainment / Open Road Films
    Director(s): Joe Carnahan
    Writer(s): Kurt McLeod and Joe Carnahan / Mark Williams and Kurt McLeod (story)

I’m on it.

When rookie officer Valerie Young (Alexis Louder) gets a disturbance call, the last thing she expects upon arrival is an all-out brawl between men and women in tuxedos and dresses outside of a wedding reception. That’s Vegas for you. Since they’re only hurting themselves, her sergeant stays in the car to finish his burger while she pulls her revolver to shoot into the air and break it up. That’s when Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo) enters the frame with a sucker punch to Young’s jaw right before apologizing and begging to be arrested. She’s only too obliged to fulfill his wish with about 50,000 volts of electricity to boot. And that’s just the start of what’s about to prove a very long night for the lucky few who survive.

Written and directed by Joe Carnahan (from a script originated by Kurt McLeod, an Edmonton-based financial advisor), Copshop quickly brings us into Young’s station for the duration of the runtime—save the drunken disorderly incarceration of a John Doe who’s also doing his best to spend the night in lock-up. After finding himself in the opposite holding cell from Teddy due to the precinct not mixing drunks with violent offenders, it doesn’t take long to reveal what we’ve already figured out. He’s a contract killer named Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler) and thus one of the many people Teddy is trying to elude at all costs. While everyone else goes about their usual boring night shift business, Young enjoys the distraction of figuring out what’s going on.

The details come, but they don’t really matter since none change the players or the game while adding a crooked cop (Ryan O’Nan‘s Huber) and a legitimate psychopath (Toby Huss‘ scene-stealing Anthony Lamb) only accelerates the timetable. Scrape it all away and you’re left with protector, prey, and predator. Young will not waver where it comes to bringing both men in custody to justice. Teddy won’t stop talking until he can do what he does best and ultimately achieve his freedom. And Bob will calmly bide his time and measure every word and action to better situate himself with his surroundings before pouncing to get his man. Young inevitably must trust one in an enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend scenario, but which will she choose and how long before he betrays her?

Don’t expect to be wowed by the plot as a result. It’s front to back convenience constructed to plausibly be seen as organic despite every string being visible. Hopefully this won’t be too difficult of a revelation for you to wrap your head around, though, since you probably didn’t sit down to watch Copshop for its Oscar-worthy writing. You’re here for the action, the actors, and the comedic dialogue holding the obvious machinations together. Let Butler and Grillo chew some scenery together as they feel each other out and act coy about what they know is coming. It’s nowhere near as dramatic as Carnahan’s Narc, but the format reminded me of that title most as far as his career goes—especially when Louder makes their duo a trio.

Her Young is the star here. She’s always the smartest person in the room and will not be conned or charmed by either man. She’s putting things together with minimal background, using her experience as a solider to read people, anticipate, and give back whatever sardonic gruff is thrown her way. Louder stares Grillo and Butler in the eye constantly and doesn’t blink because, if nothing else, having the chance to use the revolver her co-workers mock her for having is worth whatever carnage is about to go down. And with machine guns, fires, and sledgehammers popping up while the local ambulance response time exposes itself as piss-poor, you can be certain that a lot is coming. Fingers crossed that the trauma kit is fully stocked.

The first half is conversation-heavy with minimal theatrics; the last half reveals either a decent budget or an expert use of what little they had (it’s surely a combination of both). Huss’ introduction becomes a game-changing catalyst in the best way by injecting some chaos while also providing the punchline for one of Butler’s earlier declarations. His blunt force trauma is eventually matched by the others’ precision for a couple cat-and-mouse suspense chases that prove effective enough despite the stakes remaining low due to zero wiggle room as far as who is getting out alive. The film starts with its trio and unsurprisingly ends with it too—Lamb simply gets in the way for a little bit. Everyone else does too. They’re expendable fodder for bullets and jokes.

Some of the dialogue gets too cute for its own good with pop culture references, World War II history, and sing-alongs, but it works in the usual stylized way that Carnahan operates under. That I found myself laughing out loud more than once only shows he still has the flair for entertainment even if the products themselves differ very little thematically from the last. It’s not as good as Narc or The Grey, but I’d give it an edge over Boss Level from earlier this year simply because of its mean-streak. Louder’s inclusion does a lot to help its case too by providing a perfect mix of her co-stars’ repertoire with a wry severity that endears her as the type of hero we’ll pull for to the end.

[1] Gerard Butler stars as “Bob Viddick” in Joe Carnahan’s COPSHOP, an Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment release. Credit : Kyle Kaplan / Open Road Films / Briarcliff Entertainment
[2] Alexis Louder stars as “Valerie Young” in Joe Carnahan’s COPSHOP, an Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment release. Credit : Kyle Kaplan / Open Road Films / Briarcliff Entertainment
[3] Frank Grillo stars as “Teddy Murretto” in Joe Carnahan’s COPSHOP, an Open Road Films and Briarcliff Entertainment release. Credit : Kyle Kaplan / Open Road Films / Briarcliff Entertainment

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