Cop Car (2015)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Cop Car</strong> (2015)

(On Cable TV, November 2016) It seems unfair to overly criticize a film like Cop Car. At its core, it’s nothing more than a simple low-budget film that tries for something specific and achieves it successfully. As two boys somewhere in rural Midwestern USA discover a seemingly abandoned cop car and start goofing with it (driving it on the back roads, playing with the equipment it contains), they barely realize what they’ve stumbled into. It gets much worse. As they discover a man tied up in the trunk and as the film intercuts with a crooked sheriff getting rid of a body, it’s clear to us (but not to them) how much trouble they’re into. Kevin Bacon isn’t bad, but doesn’t shine as the corrupt policeman. As a small-scale rural thriller, Cop Car sets up its elements and plays with them, steadily increasing the suspense until the end. There’s an intriguing mismatch between the crooked-cop thriller and the playful nature of the two boys having a grand day out (you don’t have to be a gun enthusiast to wince at the dangerous weapons handling shown here), up until the bullets start flying and they realize the danger they’re in. But for all of the low-budget charm that Cop Car can show, it’s not quite the film it could be. The plot is noticeably thin and the pacing even worse, leading to a film that feels too long even as it merely squeaks by 90 minutes. It also back-loads its story so that by the time everything happens in the last few minutes, it seems to end far too quickly to provide proper closure. While Cop Car ends up being a calling card for director Jon Watts (who’s moving on to no less than a new Spider-Man movie), it’s not quite good enough to reach viewers outside its chosen genre.

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