Remember that one dumb movie about criminals and cops you saw last week? What about last month? Last year? Ten years ago? Well then, congratulations! You already saw Copshop! You already know all about how this is going to go, right down the bloody mayhem and the police chief who says the f-word every chance he gets, and to make it even better, the logic is thrown into solitary confinement! Now these rough-talking denizens of evil can do whatever they want, and you’ll willfully engage with the hypnotic content! Doesn’t that sound like fun? Eh…
As expected by this type of movie, there are many, many issues, and it’s all the type of issues you’ve seen countless times before; among the greater issues is the handling of plot information. One unnecessary scene covers exposition by showing flashbacks, which clashes against how the rest of the film is edited; the timespan needed to stay in the here and now. Among other components that disrupt the pacing includes a few times, particularly closer toward the end, when some comic relief awkwardly tries to squeeze itself in, of which nobody over the age of forty will so much as grin at; the head bad guy in particularly tries too forcefully at the humor game.
If there was less attempt at appealing to testosterone-heavy sensation, then the sincere drama would be more noticeable; for instance, the careful moviegoer would notice the keen use of signs posted around the building, all of which summarize the ultimate meaning of the scene they’re present in. It’s evidence of the sincerely solid character moments when the editor isn’t trying to pull away from them. The female cop character is introduced with a gun flip focused only on her hand, and you get a glimpse of her before even knowing that she’s female or a cop. So without a word being said, you know right away what’s important to her and what she’s willing to do to get it. Yet because of the rather jumbled editing, the setups to such key character moments have no definite payoffs.
As for the rest of the men who make up the police station, they start off talking as harshly as real cops, complete with their casual conversations on off-time, which does in fact make them feel human. But they eventually stop acting realistic, and even start acting stupid once the plot needs them to, then the plot goes in favor of them again whenever they have to live… which is accomplished by making the villain run out of ammo at precisely the right moment. Even if the script proves remarkable in humanizing both the anti-heroes and the true heroes so they both are seen as heroic in their own ways, the excessive fake-out deaths destroy any motivation to see good come out of them. The film isn’t even successful in making the photography realistic or comprehensible; the exposure drops down too many stops to make the opening credits easier to read, and the blood effects are the wrong color; both of these things could have been fixed easily if there was just a little more time spent in post-production.
At least other parts of the visual motifs surrounding this chaotic night feature some clever methods of escalating the tension. While it does get kind of boring, there reaches a point close to the second act break, as marked by the sight of bullet holes in glass that are composed to look more like cobwebs, when the tension never stops. It’s here you’ll notice more the dramatic use of fans in the background as the subjects in focus seems to fall closer to the propellers of their death, and you see when they finally reach that point during the climax, which is set in steamy pitch-blackness. Even the dialogue has some genius use of irony- angering you as much as the guy the dialogue is directed to.
You could probably piece together from here that this movie is trying to be “cool,” which to some extent, it’s successful at. It includes the irresistible sneak music to set the mood, and the bloodbath gore is delivered as promised. In sight and sound, you’ll both cringe and find yourself oddly intrigued by surgery performed on a person, complete with the disgusting sound effects. You may even appreciate the acceptable performance given by Gerard Butler- he seems to live for this kind of genre.
What good is a violent movie though if it doesn’t know how to approach the sum of its parts? The intense climax is instantly ruined by the underwhelming ending that reminds you of all the film’s problems. Once the action is over, it looks like it’s about to cut to end credits, then throws in one last scene, which wasn’t even necessary to begin with. At that point, you stopped caring a long time ago about keeping track of who’s alive or dead. You are just waiting for it to end, since it reached a point when you figured no character development is going to come out of this; the characters who appear to be open for redemption arcs never get them. This should have trimmed down some of the minor characters to make more time to explore the main ones, and allow them to grow from one another. Really, this whole movie would have been better if it focused only on the two crooks locked in the cell for most of the time, and if the entirety of the film stayed in that single room like it was a play.
In fact, why couldn’t this have been a live play in the first place? It would have worked completely in its favor, as the creative limitations would then have held back the harmful message that crime is okay as long as you can get away with it. On stage, the bloody mayhem wouldn’t have been as achievable, and the writer would have been forced to delve deeper into the human condition. But clearly, that wasn’t the reason why Copshop was ever an idea in the first place, it was just all about killing cops.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!