Copshop: The BRWC Review

Copshop Synopsis: wily con artist Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo) hatches a plan to hide from lethal assassin Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler). He punches rookie officer Valerie Young (Alexis Louder) to get himself arrested and locked up in a small-town police station. However, jail can’t protect Murretto for long as Viddick schemes his own way into detention, biding his time in a nearby cell until he can complete his mission.

Similar to his brazenly outspoken public persona, writer/director Joe Carnahan has carved a career out of bold cinematic throwbacks. From the violent carnage of 2006’s hitman actioner Smokin’ Aces to the comedic mania of 2014’s underrated Stretch – Carnahan continues to embrace his distinct and kinetic sensibility..

Carnahan’s latest lean-and-mean thrill ride, Copshop, cleverly utilizes its COVID-19 filmed conditions by sticking to the confines of a run-down police station. In his presentation of a dog-eats-dog environment full of crooked cronies, Carnahan plays to his strengths in a breezy genre picture. 

Copshop skillfully rides a delicate balance between self-seriousness and self-awareness. Carnahan and co-writer Kurt McLeod thread the needle effectively through their sharp screenplay, implementing a medley of vulgar one-liners and oddball comedic bits to invigorate the traditioned narrative. The duo keenly understands the familiar narrative waters they are treading – and while the film never relents from its straight-faced delivery, there’s enough playful energy to propel the chaos onscreen. When the tonalities come together, Copshop frames itself as a western-esque battle between good and evil, with the two opposing forces sharing a twistedly conjoined reality in their relentless chase after one another. 

Despite working in a closed-off setting, Carnahan unleashes viscerally vibrant choices behind the camera. Cinematographer Juan Miguel Azpiroz turns the narrative limitations into an asset – as he and Carnahan morph the antiquated setting into a tight-quarters maze riddled with bullets and bloodshed. The duo’s dim color pallet and no-thrills framing are a welcoming embrace to the aesthetics of yesteryear. I credit Carnahan for recreating his throwback-inspired pastiche without hammering the conceit with clunky gimmicks. 

Copshop’s twisting narrative comes to life under the guidance of a skilled cast. Alexis Louder easily stands as the breakout of the bunch, infusing her straight-arrow police role with action star charisma and sturdy dramatic chops. In a film chock-full of manic caricatures, she provides a much-needed center for the unrelenting narrative. Gerard Butler is an absolute menace as the rugged hitman Bob Viddick – and I mean that in the best possible way. Butler’s abilities are best showcased when embodying grimey scumbags (Den of Thieves) rather than generic everymen, with his dynamic presence creating a charismatic killer operating under his own honored code. Frank Grillo is also fittingly squirely as Teddy, sporting a ridiculous man-bun and deceptive energy as a crook who’s constantly on the run. 

Copshop elicits crowd-pleasing entertainment throughout its runtime, but some of Carnhan’s trademarks fail to connect. A few comedic bits -particularly those from Toby Huss’s role as a crazed killer – try too hard to generate stir-crazy energy from stagnating material. While the film effectively whisks audiences along, Carnahan and McLeod’s script doesn’t do much to reinvent the wheel. There’s a wave of expository backstory that fails to draw interest, with the film’s convoluted web of relationships never being as cohesive as Carnahan’s clear inspirations (the writer/director has always showcased a mix of Guy Ritchie and Quentin Tarantino). 

Copshop doesn’t break new ground, but Carnahan and company infuse enough infectious style and energy to create a winning genre romp.

Copshop opens in theaters on September 17.  

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Matt is an American who has grown up for passion for film and its empathetic powers to tell unique stories (especially in the science fiction sphere). Some of his favorites include Inside Llewyn Davis, Her, Goodfellas, Frances Ha and Moonlight.