Copshop Review: Fun performances and stylish action outweigh a so-so story
With a pedigree in directing action thrillers like The Grey and Boss Level, it’s no surprise that director Joe Carnahan delivers a solid cops and crooks thriller with Copshop.
The film’s plot almost feels like the start of a joke as it uncovers what happens when wily con artist Teddy (Frank Grillo), determined and hard-headed hitman Bob (Gerard Butler), and rough and tough rookie cop Val (Alexis Louder) end up in a small-town jail together as secrets and deception turn the precinct into a bloodbath. Carnahan actually does a nice job keeping the action to a minimum at first and simply letting the tension simmer as you try to piece together what everyone’s thinking. Like any great mystery thriller, the most engaging parts of Copshop are where you’re left questioning what the real answers are. Like Val and the rest of her fellow officers, you’re left wondering why exactly Teddy is on the run and how he attracted the likes of a calculated hitman like Bob. Not to mention, there’s something up with precinct punching bag Officer Huber (Ryan O’Nan) as he’s formulating his own plan in order to pay off some kind of secret debt.
There are plenty of mysterious story threads that initially are fun to follow, but more often than not lead to underwhelming answers. Teddy’s whole story of why people are after him isn’t all that spectacular and the way it’s told just feels like generic flashbacks. Even smaller story crumbs that are dropped throughout the film involving the death of an attorney general and this whole corruption thing with Huber and a higher up fed don’t come back in interesting ways or just simply disappear from the film altogether. Once the action gets going, the story pretty much goes out the window and the way people seemingly die and then don’t deplete the stakes gravely and the film ends in a ridiculous way that’s anti-climactic.
Copshop’s greatest strengths don’t really come from its story though as the performances, style, and insane action are truly what win the day. The trio of Grillo, Butler, and Louder have excellent dynamic with one another and elevate the characteristics of their respective characters. Grillo makes Teddy an oddly likeable conman who’s tough to pinpoint what he’s going to do and brings out good emotion to convince Val to trust him. Butler is a delightfully brooding hitman that makes his own sense of righteousness in his profession intriguing through his believably tough performance. Louder is the true breakout star as her cockiness and determination to do what’s right gives off the perfect kind of rookie vibes, but that doesn’t mean she can’t handle herself. She’s a total badass and will easily be everyone’s favorite to root for. Together, they make the film’s dialogue and jokes work with how they rag on each other and it’s very fun to watch.
They’re probably the one major part that makes the dialogue and Carnahan’s direction for Copshop work since it can be a little overbearing at times. There’s a very immature masculine feel to the whole film where there are plenty of dick measuring contests between characters and the script is profanity ridden to say the least. There are some characters that legitimately just puff out their chest and yell for their entire existence and it gives the film a “bro” masculine vibe that can be a little much. However, the likeable performances help offset the tone and that’s especially true when it comes to a psychotic second assassin named Lamb (Toby Huss) that shows up around the halfway point. Huss just chews up the scenery with glee from start to finish as this remarkably joyous assassin that’s just an absolute blast. Lamb’s addition to the situation also adds some interesting lore between characters and adds another layer of stakes to the chaos.
Huss just goes for it leading to an amazing, can’t miss villain performance and the same can be said when it comes to Carnahan dishing out the action. It’s hard not to respect that when Carnahan finally gets to the gun-fighting, it generally rules because it’s just completely unleashed and untethered. It’s like he jams on the trigger with confidence and never lets go until there’s no more bullets left. It’s epic, blood spattering, free fire finale is a ton of fun with how tension filled it is and how unexpected its results can feel at times. Like I said before, things can get ridiculous, but it’s the kind of dumb fun that sometimes you just enjoy in the moment.
Maybe Copshop can’t fully deliver a tense mystery thriller story wise, but Carnahan does pretty much everything else right in directing some very fun performances and stylish action that make Copshop a solid watch.