Cop Land (1997)

(Netflix Streaming, August 2015)  It’s funny how time can polish some things.  If contemporary accounts are to be believed, Cop Land earned mixed reviews upon initial release, with a lot of people disliking Sylvester Stallone’s turns as a lumbering town sheriff dealing with a community of crooked cops on his watch.  But seen nearly twenty years later, the film has somehow accumulated a lot of qualities along the way.  For Stallone, his performance here still stands tall as a strong dramatic role, unglamorous and willing to play with the confines of a flawed protagonist.  (Meanwhile, isn’t it awesome to see Robert de Niro not playing a parody of himself?)  The dramatic heft of the crooked-cop themes is pleasant, as is the sense of morally-compromised characters trying to do the right thing even as they don’t understand who’s with them or not.  The premise of a town almost dominated by policemen creates a unique atmosphere, and the film does earn its happy ending along the way.  In short, Cop Land plays a lot better now that it seems to have done upon release, and it holds up as a solid police drama.  …and keep in mind that I seldom say nice things about Sylvester Stallone.

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