Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cop Land (1997)


This is a story written with a very intriguing concept, a modern day old style Western hybrid which translates beautifully.  In New York City there are cops who don’t want to live there but merely work.  They create a community with the help of the mob outside of the city limits to live more peacefully.  That gets interrupted when one of the cops living there commits murder and flees the scene.  The crime solving begins as it’s a battle between the right and wrong side of the law.

                The lead NYPD cop Ray Donlan (Harvey Keitel) wants nothing more than to have his family and friends protected outside the dangerous streets of New York City.  He creates a community filled with cops he holds as his brothers in a sense.  It doesn’t stay crime free though when one of the young cops murders some black men in it.  Before that happens though it’s explained how he set up the area for his men.  He makes a deal with mobsters to give his men a good place to live (nice houses) in exchange the mob can engage in their unlawful practices safely within Ray’s built community.  The men work in the city but come home to a safe community to live out otherwise clean wholesome lives.

Patrick and Keitel
                A subtle race undertone is used in the film.  This community is all white as they believe, without ever confessing or making it clearly known in the film, that black people will bring drug and violence type problems to their community.  It alienates possible black viewers from the film in a sense but it’s handled well due to the main plot that a white cop in the community does in fact murder unarmed black men toward the beginning of the film.  Robert Patrick, who plays Jack Rucker, shows up at the scene of the crime and plants a gun in the car.  He is close to Ray and fixated on keeping the community under their control so to speak.  It’s a convincing performance turned in by Patrick as well.

De Niro and Sly
                The character Freddy Heflin (Sly Stallone himself) plays the slow-witted sheriff of said community.  It’s a very good performance by Sly to say the least.  He eventually pieces together the inherent corruption of the town he once thought so pure.  Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro) is able to use Freddy enough to get to the bottom of the crime.  Moe works for NYPD internal affairs and has no jurisdiction in the community so must go through Freddy.  The story moves incredibly well with no side distraction by side characters that disrupt the flow of the film.  Gary Figgis (Ray Liotta) is the man who has felt firsthand the evil within the community and he tries desperately to leave the town and begin a new life.  His character is full on himself but in the end sides with Freddy to do the right thing.  He has a cocaine addiction that is mixed in to add to his troubles.

Luckily Ray Liotta is always in character
                Janeane Garofalo which I’m not a fan of actually doesn’t annoy me at all by acting for a change.  She is the deputy for Freddy and has an honest nature that doesn’t fit in with the community.  She ultimately leaves before things get out of hand.  Michael Rapaport and Noah Emmerich are in it which I can’t stand either but thankfully their minor characters and I don’t have to put up with them much.

                The movie accomplishes that in order to break free from a crime ridden city such as New York you must not resort to crime (the mob) in order to create what you think is a lawful community.  It also teaches that racial hate and profiling is a tool which will also hinder any plausible attempt to break free from a bad situation.  It does not outright ever address the racial tension but if you keep a watchful eye throughout the film you can see its signs.  The performances in the film are amazing by the entire cast and it’s a film that wraps up perfectly at the end.  I can’t say police type movies are my type of genre but this one certainly holds very well to a person such as me that isn’t a big fan.  Watch this film for a great story.

                Rating: 8 of 10

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