Copshop (2021) ☆☆☆(3/4): A fixer, a killer, and an officer

“Copshop” is an efficient action thriller flick which plays well with its familiar genre elements on the whole. Right from its opening part, we already have a pretty good idea on what we are going to get, but the movie deftly builds up tension and intrigue along its straightforward plot during its first half, and then we are served with a series of well-executed moments of brutal violence and action as expected during its second half.

At the beginning, we are introduced to a dude named Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo), and he is running away by a vehicle apparently not belonging to him. When that vehicle happens to have some mechanical problem, he has no choice but to walk to a nearby desert town named Gun Creek, and then he unfortunately happens to be arrested by a young local female police officer named Valerie Young (Alexis Louder).

While Murretto is subsequently taken to the police station, it turns out that he is already being pursued by a guy named Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler), who soon lets himself deliberately arrested and then taken to the same police station while disguising himself as some pathetic drunk. Although he fails to be in the same cell along with Murretto, this wily dude, who is revealed to be hired to eliminate Murretto, has the other plan just in case, and the mood gradually becomes tense while he and Murretto talk with each other while there is no one around them except some real drunk who happens to be stuck with Viddick in the same cell and remains mostly unconscious.

Meanwhile, Young begins to gather that there is something suspicious about Murretto as she checks his criminal record, which has been somehow wiped clean for some unknown reason. In case of Viddick, she becomes very cautious about him when he later attempts to execute his plan B, and she naturally tries to find out what the hell is really going on between Viddick and Murretto, though we already come to discern that both of these two untrustworthy dudes are involved with a certain shocking incident repeatedly reported on TV.

And the tension between Viddick and Murretto is increased more and more along the story. Although they are separately locked in different cells, Viddick knows a certain weak spot of his opponent, and he toys with that a bit just for goading his opponent more. As sensing more that he must get out of the police station as soon as possible, Murretto tries to persuade Young to release him right now, but Young remains adamant as before, and then there eventually comes a point where the movie takes another plot turn.

The trailer of the movie reveals a bit too much of what will happen next after this narrative point, so I will not go more into details, but I guess I can tell you that the movie consequently enters that familiar genre territory occupied by other similar movies ranging from “Rio Bravo” (1959) to “Assault on Precinct 13” (1976). Soon finding herself cornered into a very desperate circumstance with no one to come to help her, Young comes to see that she must depend on either Murretto or Viddick, but she also cannot easily trust either of them, and the time keeps running out for her minute by minute.

In case of Viddik and Murretto, they also become quite desperate, so they respectively keep trying to persaude Young to trust either of them for a while at least. Murretto becomes a little more honest as revealing what exactly he is trying to escape, but Viddik emphasizes how unreliable Murretto is as a sleazy fixer, and Young must decide on whom she will have to release for the extra help she needs right now.

As the story eventually arrives at its climactic part, the movie expectedly throws lots of actions into the screen, and director/co-writer/co-producer Joe Carnahan, who is no stranger to action movies as shown from his several previous works including “Boss Level” (2020), and his crew members did a competent job of presenting a number of gritty action scenes with considerable visceral impact. Around the end of the story, the movie stumbles a little as losing some of its narrative momentum, but it soon recovers from that, and you will be amused a bit by the last shot which is morbidly cheerful in my humble opinion.

As the opposing main characters in the story, Gerard Butler and Frank Grillo, who also participated in the production of the film, have some fun as their characters play a sort of cat-and-mouse game during the first half of the movie. As two reliable veteran actors who have appeared in numerous action thriller films for years, they certainly do not disappoint us at all when they are required to do some action later in the story, and Alexis Louder, a promising newcomer who previously played a minor supporting character in “Harriet” (2019), holds her own place well between Butler and Grillo. As another crucial part of the story, Toby Huss is effective while casually going back between jolliness and ruthlessness as demanded, and he surely brings some twisted humor to his several key scenes in the film.

Overall, “Copshop” did not surprise me much as mostly playing according to its genre conventions, but it is still a fairly entertaining flick thanks to its good handling of suspense and action and the engaging performances from its main cast members. I was a bit disappointed because it does not reach to the level of “Assault on Precinct 13”, but, as far as I can see, it does its job as well as intended, but I will not grumble for now.

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