Robert De Niro
That triggers the conflict of Cop Land, written and directed by James Mangold. Sylvester Stallone stars as Freddy Heflin, a half-deaf sheriff whose shifts are spent breaking up alleyway fights between kids and settling neighborhood garbage disputes. He grew up admiring the men in blue, but his handicap kept him from crossing the bridge to the NYPD, where scumbags like Ray Donlan (Harvey Keitel) are lauded.
Because so much falls on a deaf ear, Freddy is in awe of guys like that. And his naivety regarding Donlan’s nephew’s “death” is why he can be so easily played and swayed. Suspicious of Donlan, though, is investigator Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro), one of the few characters who hasn’t seen the nephew (Michael Rappaport) about town and so can’t do much but beg others to lend a hand.
With Stallone, De Niro, Keitel and Ray Liotta on the poster, Cop Land hosts something of a dream team of tough guys, and a lot of tension comes in their maneuvering and head butting. But only one of the men is put to good use. De Niro does his intimidating bit when it’s called for. Keitel does the same but with scarier eyes. And Liotta, as a fellow officer, is always on edge, like Henry Hill in the last portion of Goodfellas.
That leaves Stallone, the least likely to succeed. Here’s a role that doesn’t require him to grunt between each breath, and so the viewer expects him to stumble. But he doesn’t. He is restrained and even smart in how he portrays Freddy as the idolizing never-was. Stallone, that meathead, can act if he’s asked to.
Mangold intended Cop Land to be an “urban western,” with Stallone as the sole survivor in a worn-down town where no one can be trusted anymore. That’s developed nicely here. But little else is. Most of the story is all over the place (and, at times, completely illogical) and the characters are sloppy. How did they ever get badges?
Cop Land: The Making of an Urban Western (14:21): This standard promotional piece contains interviews (with Mangold, Stallone and more), on-set footage and clips to provide a broad overview of the making of Cop Land. Mangold’s emphasis on the western aspect of Cop Land is a bit of a stretch, though.
Deleted Scenes: There are two here, which can be viewed with optional commentary: “Car Chase” and “Profile.”
Storyboard Comparison (1:59): The final shootout is looked at, with part of the sequence shown alongside production sketches.