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Cop Car: The Best Thriller of 2015

October 18, 2015

Cop Car movie poster

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Cop Car is fantastic thriller that looks beautiful and boasts a fantastic bad guy turn by Kevin Bacon. I’m happy director Jon Watts is doing the next Spider Man but I would’ve loved another white knuckle thriller from him. This movie could’ve easily gone into Tarantino land but instead becomes something very original. There is zero fat to the 86 minute film yet it always feels patient. The Colorado vistas speak for themselves and the isolation aids to the overall hopelessness. Cop Car is a fantastic hybrid of cartoon, thriller and coming of age movie.  I would place it alongside Blue Ruin, Headhunters and Slow West as my favorite thrillers of this decade so far.

Cop Car Kevin Bacon

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The premise is simple. Two young kids steal a cop car and the cop attempts to chase them down. However, everything gets messy and it is all very nerve wracking. I appreciated how the kids weren’t precocious little punks and instead proved to be every ounce of their ten years. Their shenanigans had me cringing with dread and I can’t believe it went down the way it did. Cop Car follows a very odd structure in that you have no clue where it is going. When a movie surprises me I know it has done a great job.

I also loved how the expository dialogue was nonexistent. We learn about the characters as events unfold and it always keeps us in the moment. We watch as they figure out what they are going to do and then they execute their hasty plan. There isn’t much time for thought because everything is urgent and action is required.  The camera is voyeuristic and that makes for a very stressful and occasionally funny experience. I never thought I’d be so tense watching Kevin Bacon attempting to unlock a car door with a shoe string.  I love what Watts had to say about why Bacon took the role.

I think he said when he read it, he just completely saw the character and he was excited about the idea of creating a character with everything else, not with dialogue, but with his physicality, with his wardrobe, with the art direction of his house and his truck and things like that, you know, the way he moves. Because essentially everything he says is a lie. Almost every line he has until really the very end is some sort of bullsh*t. We don’t explain anything about how he got there and how he’s gotten himself into this situation, so it’s like a very visual performance, a very physical performance. He’s amazing and I think he was really excited about that opportunity.

The MVP of Cop Car is Shea Whigham (Take Shelter, Fast & Furious, All the Real Girls, American Hustle). I won’t spoil how he is introduced but the movie becomes pretty awesome when he becomes a player. His monologue to the boys is a thing of terrible glory and murderous threats. He is always good in everything he does and he almost steals the spotlight from an A+ Kevin Bacon. If you are ever looking for a supporting player to add some menace just go ahead and cast the guy. He has never disappointed.

If you are looking for a lean and mean thriller it doesn’t get any better than Cop Car. It is a fantastic calling card for Jon Watts and you can tell Kevin Bacon loves every second of his villainous role.

 

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