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"Cop Car" Review

While he is pretty much the undisputed King of the Universe with his stewardship of the 23-film (and counting) Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of the things Kevin Feige has struggled a bit with is working with left-of-the-dial directors. While Ant-Man suffered greatly from the loss of Edgar Wright, James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy was a boundary-expanding entry in the MCU.

The art-house tag-team of Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck were a poor fit for Captain Marvel leading to a lackluster (and polarizing for it) movie, but somehow Feige spotted something about Jon Watts' second effort, Cop Car - which grossed about what Avengers: Endgame made on a single screen in an afternoon ($143K) - to hire him to helm the franchise-saving, Tom Holland-starring. Spider-Man: Homecoming re-reboot and its impending sequel, Spiderman: Far From Home.

While I've had the DVD for a while, I try to avoid DVDs like I avoid VHS tapes, but it popped up on Netflix in HD so it was time to catch up and after seeing it, I guess there's a reason why Kevin Feige has grossed over $2.5 BILLION and I'm not because I wouldn't have thought, "Hey, this guy should make Spider-Man movies."

While Kevin Bacon is the top-billed star, Cop Car is the story of two young boys, James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford, who we meet walking across the prairies of Colorado taking turns swearing as they're apparently running away from home. They come upon a vacant sheriff's cruiser in a glade and in poking around it discover the keys and decide to take it for a joyride. Many youthful hijinks ensue as they do donuts in the fields or wrap themselves in crime scene tape, but when they start messing with the guns it gets tense as you're sure they're about to shoot their eyes out, kids.

We then flashback to how the car came to be there as Bacon drives up and parks and then proceeds to drag a dead body from the truck off to dump down a well a distance away that must not have been accessible directly by the car lest the setup for the movie not occur. When he comes back to find it gone, he naturally panics because he's the Sheriff and losing your car is a bad look especially when you're a Very Bad Man who wouldn't want your deputies to know what you're up to.

The rest of the movie alternates between the boys being boys, so clueless at the risks they're taking, and Bacon's increasingly panicked Sheriff trying to catch up. A woman who spots the boys driving (Camryn Manheim) feels wedged in to allow Bacon to know what happened to his ride. Shea Whigham is another familiar face who enters late in the picture to up the stakes.

While the overall running time is under an hour-and-a-half, Cop Car feels a little too empty for the length. The boys are realistic, but not interesting; their haplessly veering into peril worries us, but you get that same concern when you see a squirrel on the curb and you wonder if the idiot is about to bolt in front of your car. Bacon is Bacon, awesome, and he deftly straddles the bumbling crook/serious threat line.

Ultimately, it's Jon Watts' thin script (co-written with Christopher Ford) which reduces Cop Car into a generally flat experience with occasional waves of excitement which mirrors the landscape it's set in.

Score: 6/10. Catch it on cable.


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