Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 28 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Language, Violence and brief Drug Use
Directed by: Jon Watts
Written by: Jon Watts & Christopher Ford
Starring: Kevin Bacon, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford, Camryn Manheim & Shea Whigham
When I first heard about COP CAR, I thought to myself, “Really? How could you make a feature-length film with that premise?” Even with positive word of mouth and an intriguing trailer, I was still a bit skeptical. Having now seen COP CAR, I am happy to say that it’s a mean-spirited little thriller. This movie largely succeeds thanks to Kevin Bacon stealing the show and a finale that didn’t go where I was expecting it to at all. COP CAR is a cool little indie that will hopefully gain a large fan base over time.
Travis and Harrison are two 10-year-old friends who have run away from home. While walking through a field, they pull the usual shenanigans you would expect young hooligans like this to do. These mainly include reciting cuss words and poking around in potential snake holes. Their journey escalates when they come across a seemingly abandoned cop car. Soon enough, the boys are behind the wheel of said vehicle and careening through a desolate stretch of highway. Little do the boys know that the cop car they’ve just stolen wasn’t so abandoned. In fact, it belongs to the corrupt Sheriff Kretzer, who isn’t above breaking the law and putting others in danger to get his car (packed full of incriminating evidence) back.
COP CAR uses two storylines with entirely different tones for its first half. The first storyline follows the two runaway kids and I have to say that these characters annoyed me. It may have been partially because the talent of the child actors varied from scene to scene, but I mainly blame the writing on this one. These kids are stupid. That sounds obvious, especially because the plot revolves around them stealing a cop car…but I really, truly hated these characters for the first half of this film. A few montages of them toying around with semi-automatic guns and crime scene tape just felt unneeded and didn’t quite pull of the dark comedy factor off very well. The second half of the film is where I actually started feeling sympathy towards the kids and that’s because the latter half becomes an all-out road thriller. The tension (from constant threats around them) is probably the only thing that made these child characters tolerable to me. However, something more than makes up for their annoying hijinks in the first half. That something is…
Kevin Bacon! This man has acted as a variety of different characters over his career. He’s played good guys, hardened vigilantes, and also a few villains. Sheriff Kretzer is one of the more morally reprehensible villains of Bacon’s filmography. He’s a slimy, corrupt-to-the-core guy who’s in a desperate hurry to cover up this situation brought on by a couple of 10-year-olds. While the kids goof off in the first half of this movie, we also keep cutting to the Sheriff frantically hiding his tracks, destroying evidence, and being a generally creepy guy. We know that he’ll confront the two boys at some point in the film and a sense of unease rises as to how that encounter might end. Kevin Bacon oozes menace off the screen in every scene he’s in and makes for one hell of a memorable corrupt cop on film.
As I mentioned before, the first half of COP CAR cuts between two storylines. The first quickly gets annoying, but the second more than makes up for that. The goofy tone becomes lost when things take a hard left turn into all-out thriller territory during the latter half of the film. Running at just under 90 minutes, the movie barely has any time to wear out is welcome. Though it starts off slowly (much like the kids driving their stolen vehicle at 35 mph), it fully kicks off in the scenes with Bacon and leads to an ultimately satisfying finale. COP CAR is a tense little thriller that should entertain those looking for something a little out of the ordinary.