Copshop review – brutal B-movie bliss

September 14, 2021
M.N. Miller 0
Film, Film Reviews


Copshop is relentlessly entertaining and has a breakout performance from Alexis Louder.



Copshop is relentlessly entertaining and has a breakout performance from Alexis Louder.

You have to admire Joe Carnahan’s Copshop’s relentless second half. It’s like a game of blood-soaked whack-a-mole. It’s a film that you may not know where that cinema line is you don’t cross. How? Probably from the sheer amount of bodies, bullet casings, and blood spread and soaked across the floor. It’s an ode to a 1970s crime thriller with a dry sense of humor and rapid pulse.

Tell me if you heard this one before? A hitman, a cop, and a con artist walk into a precinct in the middle of a desolate Nevada desert. Before that, the cops are called to break up a fight outside a wedding when a sergeant (The Wire‘s Chad L. Coleman) and his trainee, Valerie (Watchmen’s Alexis Louder), is sucker-punched by a guy in a man bun named Teddy (Frank Grillo).

He has recently escaped FBI custody and punching her by design. Teddy is trying to escape from a man named Bob (Gerard Butler). He has a contract on Teddy because he stole some money from some bad people. That’s all you need to know. Confidence man steals money, a hitman hired to hunt him down, and cops will be cops — some are good, and some are on the take. Yet, it doesn’t matter. All hell breaks loose when a new hitman named Lamb (a wildly over-the-top Toby Huss) comes in to help steal Bob’s job.

The script from Carnahan (Narc) and Kurt McLeod doesn’t try to be anything it’s not, which is refreshing. It’s uncompromising; some might even call it a cruel film that doesn’t mind killing off characters without thought or care for their pleas. It’s lurid without being too offensive, with its sharp, dry wit undercutting much of the violence.

It may be nothing you haven’t seen before from a Gerard Butler action film. Copshop is close-up and gritty, with characters leaving emotions on their sleeves and sweat perspiring across their brow. Most of that is set up between the leading men dueling barbs across locked cells. Butler is good here. He revels in a role that has more ambiguity and mystery than he ever gets—a bad man with a code that may or may not change how he assesses your behavior.

The real stunner here is Alexis Louder’s slow-burn performance. Every time she is on screen, she commands your attention. You can’t take your eyes off her. Not because of her looks, which she has. Not because of any extraordinary action scenes, which she does well. She holds the viewer’s gaze with a simple look. The delivery of a small line. Her character is not present in the moment. She’s magnetic, taking what could have been a cliched role and making it great.

The film does have its drawbacks. The arrival of Huss’s Lamb goes on for so long it creates a plateau in the story that slows down the film’s pacing. Grillo’s character seems to lack any real character motivation that doesn’t work towards the end. One of the characters surviving is also out of place and needs some explanation.

Does Copshop really do anything extraordinary? No, but that’s the point. Carnathan has always been a director who creates excessive violence within exclusive settings or scenarios. It knows the story’s limits and its target audience’s expectations.

It’s B-movie bliss.

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