- Emma Simmonds
- 10 September 2021
Frank Grillo and Gerard Butler head up a B-movie that's not quite as fun as it looks
The spirit of grindhouse is alive and kicking in the down, dirty and amusingly titled Copshop, which features a decent lead trio, including producers Gerard Butler and Frank Grillo, while promising plenty of fun. We might have expected something slicker from experienced director Joe Carnahan (The A-Team, Smokin' Aces, the excellent Narc); if his latest tantalisingly evokes John Carpenter's mighty Assault On Precinct 13 it doesn't quite deliver.
Alexis Louder (The Tomorrow War, TV's Watchmen) makes a magnetic focus as plucky rookie Valerie, a small-town Nevada police officer who finds herself caught between slippery high-end fixer Teddy (Grillo) and glowering hitman Bob (Butler) during a siege at Gun Creek police station. Corrupt cop Huber (Ryan O'Nan) and Toby Huss's machine gun-toting psycho Anthony also play their part.
Writer-director Carnahan clearly hopes to follow in the footsteps of Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, whose own love for 70s-era midnight movies has been well-explored; although Copshop displays some visual flair, there's insufficient swagger and energy and, if the odd line sings ('I just took an adrenaline shot, so I'm feeling a little rambunctious' confides Valerie), the script (co-written by Kurt McLeod) is rarely sharp or funny enough.
Grillo and Butler look the part, bringing shaggy-haired menace and man-bun sporting sleaze respectively, and flickers of charisma, yet they often struggle to rise above the material. Louder, however, emerges with her dignity intact, and proves something of a revelation, managing to be both kick-ass and earnest, while Huss (best known for his comedy work in shows like Seinfeld) does the scene-stealing in a cartoony role that can be all over the place, but whose unpredictability occasionally raises a titter ('I drew a dick. It just got weird. It's gonna get weirder.')
Almost entirely lacking in the kind of nail-biting suspense that made the aforementioned Assault On Precinct 13 a classic, Copshop is just not lean and mean enough. It's structured pretty poorly, with the criminal adversaries thrown together too quickly, revelations lacking impact, and supposedly tense interactions tending to drag rather than simmer. There's nothing wrong with schlocky shenanigans, done right (seek out the films of S. Craig Zahler if you want to see good examples of modern midnight movies). But if you're going to make a B-picture, it still needs to bring its A-game.
Available to watch in cinemas from Friday 10 September.