Pulp action-thrillers might have been something of the past, but they have made a big comeback as of late with films like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, The Nice Guys, and Bad Times At The El Royale. Joe Carnahan returns with his own pulpy flick titled Copshop, which is violently action-packed, wonderfully stylized, darkly funny, and comes complete with excellent performances by everyone involved. This story that takes place all inside a police office near Las Vegas packs the thrills, the comedy, and the carnage from start to finish that is led by mega-stars Gerard Butler and Frank Grillo. Copshop is a fantastic addition to the pulp action genre and is wildly entertaining. Highly Recommended!
Carnahan made a name for himself back in 2002 with Narc. After that, he added the fast-paced chaotic action in Smokin' Aces, followed by the remake of The A-Team and the start of his relationship with Liam Neeson that led to wolves in The Grey. Carnahan has a particular knack for telling stories, whether they are a slow-paced neo-noir thriller or a fast-paced action film that is fun for the whole family. With Copshop, Carnahan and writer Mark Williams (creator of Ozark), have perfectly conjured up a turbulent story that pits cops vs criminals inside a police headquarters that feels like a funhouse right out of a carnival.
The film mostly follows Teddy Murretto, who is brought into the police station due to sucker-punching rookie officer Valerie (Alexis Louder of The Tomorrow War). Shortly after this, an uber-intoxicated man named Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler) is brought in to sleep it off enough though, nobody is what they seem and this quiet evening in the middle of nowhere at a police station becomes ground zero for the most violent night in history. Assassins, crooked cops, and more all battle for their lives. Betrayals, twists, turns, and one cartoonish assassin named Lamb (Toby Huss) all make their presence known.
Carnahan enhances the suspense right from the start by revealing certain elements that are for sure to come back ten-fold later, whether it be showcasing an insane weapon room, a cop working for the villains, and much more. Not only that, Carnahan and William's screenplay barely gives anyone time to breathe and keeps the action faucet on high stream. But what really sticks out here is the notion that even the bad guys have a code. A person has to have a code, and with what is seen in films like John Wick, there can be redeeming factors in killers for hire. With the characters of Bob and Teddy, the film weaves their sympathetic qualities in relation to the excellent rookie cop Valerie, who is by-the-books, but has a genuine heart and way about her, and maybe even a wild side for violence.
Butler and Grillo turn in excellent performances, always making everyone guess what angle they are aiming for, along with some hilarious dialogue. Alexis is a shining star that has a certain charisma reserved for the best movie stars out there. Then there is Toby Huss as the assassin Lamb who just steals every scene he's in. He's as flamboyant and funny as he is ruthless, cold-blooded, and lethal. All these wacky characters make up the house of horrors that takes place inside one night at this Copshop. There's a great balance of realistic gunplay along with a fantasy-style that only exists in this pulpy '70s action world and it works perfectly as the characters navigate these stylized rooms of weapons and jail cells.
Clinton Shorter's score always adds to the intense action sequences and cooks up the suspense around every corner while allowing that noir-ish western taste to be sprinkled with everything. Copshop is a wild, fun ride that never lets up, and begs for a sequel film. Highly Recommended!