Moviegoer: Copshop

One cop stands between the mob and a snitch in this siege movie

By Diana Beechener

Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo: Boss Level) isn’t going to live long if he stays in the open. On the run from mob hitmen, shot, and trying to save his ex-wife and son, Teddy makes the only move he can­—he punches a cop in the face.

         The cop, Valerie (Alexis Louder: The Tomorrow War), is more than happy to lock up the dude who sucker punched her. But just Teddy’s luck, he punched the one cop in Nevada who isn’t on the take or completely incompetent. Now he’s got Valerie breathing down his neck, trying to find out why Teddy sent himself to jail.

         But eager rookie cops aren’t Teddy’s only problem. Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler: Greenland), a mob hitman has gotten himself thrown in jail so he can take out Teddy and collect his money.

         Should Teddy trust Valerie to help him? Or should he take his chances with the hitman?

Director/co-writer Joe Carnahan (Boss Level) makes a very specific type of action flick. He likes slick shots with swooping camera moves, a convoluted plot, and snappy dialogue that’s just a hair too clever for whatever’s going on. Carnahan movies would have starred Schwarzenegger or Stallone if they were made 20 years ago. It’s not high art, but it’s highly entertaining if you’re a fan of the genre.

This time, Carnahan is experimenting with ‘70s B-movies as part of his aesthetic. Copshop is essentially Assault on Precinct 13 with all the gritty John Carpenter flair removed. And that, unfortunately, is a bit of a problem. Carnahan is too clean of a filmmaker to sell the grimy low budget feel he’s going for. The director likes to keep his action bombastic and light, with plenty of comedic style. That approach doesn’t mesh well with the nihilistic grunge most ‘70s movies shared. As a result, Copshop feels like a kid toddling in its mother’s shoes—cute, but undeniably a poor fit.  

Carnahan’s style is more suited to ‘80s-era action that thrived on excess. He can never seem to pull back in Copshop, glutting himself with flashy shootouts, quirky characters, and monologues.

But in spite of a too-slick exterior, there’s a lot of fun to be had in Copshop. Butler especially is having a great time as a wily and mildly unhinged hitman who is willing to do whatever it takes to collect his bounty. Whether he’s verbally sparring or literally beating the snot out of people, Butler’s Bob is a study in workplace efficiency. He has great chemistry with Louder, whose no-nonsense cop is the only thing standing between him and a quick kill. She’s as resolute as him, and they both develop a grudging respect for each other as a result.

As the only lead that isn’t overtly a scumbag, Louder is a fantastically watchable presence. She’s a great, grounded counterpoint to Butler and Grillo’s more ostentatious performances. Louder also has a natural tough shell, that makes her believable as someone who won’t panic, even under tremendous pressure.

If you’re in the market for a goofy-fun action yarn with lots of showy set pieces, you could do worse than Copshop. But the movie lends itself to a watch-at-home experience; it feels like something you’d watch with your dad on basic cable on a lazy Sunday. Butler and Louder keep the wheels on as the film barrels through action sequences, but ultimately Copshop runs out of gas a little too quickly.

Fair Action * R * 118 mins.

Copshop is playing in theaters