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Cop Land Print E-mail
Wednesday, 20 May 1998

Cop Land

Miramax Home Entertainment
MPAA rating: R
starring: Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Peter Berg, Janeane Garofalo, Robert Patrick, Michael Rapaport, Annabella Sciorra
release year: 1997
film rating: Three stars
sound/picture: Three stars
reviewed by: Abbie Bernstein

Don't let Sylvester Stallone's top billing in the title fool you. There is a bit of action in 'Cop Land,' here and there, but there are few pyrotechnics. This police corruption thriller is in fact refreshingly economic (if not the greatest challenge for a home theater system), with a carefully-paced build-up and an intelligent script. For viewers who may feel bludgeoned into resentment (if not something stronger) by some of his other recent offerings, this movie even reminds us that, given decent material, Stallone is a pretty good actor.

'Cop Land' is perhaps best viewed as 'High Noon' transplanted to contemporary New Jersey. Garrison, NJ is populated largely by NYPD cops who want to raise their families in the suburbs and who have found away around the ordinance decreeing that they must live within New York City limits. With all those blue uniforms in residence, Garrison has a low crime rate, but there's something nasty under the surface. Sheriff Freddy Heflin (Stallone) stumbles onto a tangled mess involving the killing of a police officer and the faked death of another. Although initially reluctant to think the worst of his policeman idols--or, more to the point, to make enemies of his powerful, armed neighbors--Freddy tries to create a peaceful solution to a volatile situation, but things quickly get out of hand.

Stallone, who both put on weight and lobbied hard for the role, is quite persuasive as a soft, unaggressive figure. His Freddy is so convincingly resigned and used to sitting on the sidelines (there's not much for a sheriff to do in law-abiding Garrison) that when he finally goes for a gun, the moment is more jolting than obligatory. He holds his own with Harvey Keitel as the king of the local schemers and Robert De Niro as an exasperated Internal Affairs man.

Writer/director James Mangold creates dialogue that flows easily and dramatic situations that seem plausible. He does observe the staples of the genre, but the shootouts are few-and-far between. The largest burst of action is saved for the finale in Chapter 13, which also boasts the film's most interesting and disturbing sound effect: simulating the aftermath of hearing loss, a keen aural whine slices straight through both the ambient sound and the music track. Primarily, though, Mangold is more a storyteller than an image-framer and he's good at his chosen craft.

more details
sound format:
Dolby stereo
comments: email us here...
reference system
DVD player: Kenwood DV-403
receiver: Kenwood VR-407
main speakers: Paradigm Atom
center speaker: Paradigm CC-170
rear speakers: Paradigm ADP-70
subwoofer: Paradigm PDR-10
monitor: 27-inch Toshiba

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