Copshop Review

PLOT: A con artist (Frank Grillo) marked for death by the mob gets himself arrested in order to hide in a police station. However, another prisoner (Gerard Butler) is a hitman getting ready to make his move. Allegiances are made when a crazy assassin (Toby Huss) with an arsenal invades the station, while a sheriff’s deputy (Alexis Louder) tries her best to survive the night.

REVIEW: Joe Carnahans Copshop is an affectionate homage to character-driven seventies crime pics. Any movie that starts with Lalo Schifrin‘s theme from Magnum Force is ok in my book. A tightly-wound thriller that was shot during COVID, whatever limitations were imposed on the cast and crew perhaps benefit the film in that it’s an intimate, creative character piece with a small cast. Everyone gets their moment to shine as the focus is so tight.

It’s an unusual part for co-star Frank Grillo, with him a swaggering con-man who’s mainly out for himself. On the run from the mob, the fact that his ex-wife and son are in mortal danger only kind of matters to him. So he’s out to protect his own neck, and Grillo disappears into the part, wearing a ridiculous man-bun that he told me in an interview made him want to punch himself in the face.

copshop review

Gerard Butler’s also making something of a departure here, playing a world-weary assassin with lines in his face and a sombre attitude. He reminded me a bit of old-school tough guys like Richard Boone or Joe Don Baker, guys from the sixties and seventies who had a lot of authenticity. A grim professional out to do a job, we know he’s planning on icing Grillo no matter what, but whether that includes any collateral damage is a question mark.

Of the central trio of characters, newcomer Alexis Louder is a real find. Playing a young officer who’s wearing an old-fashioned quick draw firearm and fancies herself a gunslinger, she’s fun and charismatic as the cop both guys are trying to win over to their side. Louder plays here with a real streak of vulnerability. She’s not superwoman, and she’s not above trusting one of the guys if she thinks it’ll get her out alive. She’s a terrific piece of casting by Carnahan, with her genuinely emerging as the lead by the film’s end.

As good as she is, though, the great Toby Huss mercilessly steals the film. A veteran of many movies and TV shows (he’s also a famous Frank Sinatra impersonator), this is the best role he’s had since the late, great Halt & Catch Fire. Playing a wily hitman who’s a raving psycho compared to Butler’s stoic sociopath, he runs around the station blasting everyone and everything in sight with his machine gun. He’s so good that whenever he’s offscreen, you keep hoping Carnahan will cut back to him. He’s evil, but you also want him to survive. They allow Huss to chew some scenery, with him singing “Freddie’s Dead” by Curtis Mayfield after calmly icing a couple of cops.

While set primarily in one location, Carnahan keeps the bullets flying, with some impressive indoor pyrotechnics and a fantastic all-out action finale, more than making up for the slow-burn first half. The seventies-flavored score by Clinton Shorter adds to the vibe. Carnahan seems to be evoking the work of guys like Don Siegel, and indeed he knows his stuff when it comes to putting together a solid action flick. It’s a fun little thriller that should satisfy starved action junkies until October’s onslaught of wall-to-wall movies.

copshop review




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About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.