Gerard Butler in Copshop.
Picture: Open Street Movies

It’s not straightforward to drag off a satisfying shoot-’em-up this present day. The subgenre turned considerably drained way back, which implies that present efforts both attempt too arduous to reinvent outdated tropes or really feel dispiritingly acquainted. (For each John Wick, it appears we get any variety of John Wick wannabes.) After which there’s the entire morality factor: Get too actual and also you’ll flip off, or possibly even piss off, a viewing public already delicate to the real-life toll of weapons and glorified carnage. In that context, Joe Carnahan’s Copshop inhabits an enviable Goldilocks Zone for films about dudes getting their heads blown off. It’s intelligent however not cute, savage however not miserable, and cartoonish however not asinine.

The movie takes place nearly completely inside the confines of a small rural police station within the city of Gun Creek, Nevada, the place a wounded, man-bunned sleazebag named Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo) has simply managed to get himself locked up after intentionally punching rookie police officer Valerie Younger (an exceedingly likable Alexis Louder). A mobbed-up political fixer who’s crossed all of the improper individuals, Teddy’s on the run, and he hopes {that a} police station in the course of nowhere would be the most secure place to cover out. Sadly, the person chasing Teddy, veteran bounty hunter Viddick (Gerard Butler), has the same thought. He pretends to be drunk, sideswipes a patrol automotive, and winds up thrown into the cell reverse Teddy’s.

That’s an irresistible set-up, particularly for the reason that angular, intense Grillo and the meaty, affable Butler excel at taking part in various kinds of scuzzballs. Every actor additionally has an everyman high quality that director Carnahan ably works underneath the floor right here. (Grillo, it needs to be famous, can also be the star of Carnahan’s charmingly unhinged sci-fi motion flick Boss Degree, which had an under-the-radar Hulu launch a couple of months in the past; in strange instances, actor and director is perhaps acknowledged for having a fairly good 12 months.) The result’s a stand-off by which we don’t actually know who to root for: the harried, determined con-man who seems to be mendacity via his tooth, or the smart, seemingly sincere killer out for blood.

We undoubtedly determine whom not to root for, nevertheless, when one other murderer, Anthony Lamb (a cackling, deranged Toby Huss), reveals up and begins laying waste to the complete station, turning copshop into chopshop. It’s finest to not get into too many plot particulars, particularly since one of many style pleasures of Copshop is that you just by no means fairly know who’s going to out of the blue materialize and zotz whom subsequent. Suffice it to say that Valerie — who, regardless of being a rookie, additionally occurs to be a pointy wit, a fast draw, and a munitions professional — winds up caught within the cells with Teddy and Viddick, as Lamb lays siege to them. So it’s Teddy versus Viddick, Valerie versus each of them, and all three versus Lamb.

Copshop may have in all probability gotten alongside simply high-quality as a cerebral battle of wills amongst this quartet of characters; all 4 actors are glorious, and every appears to characterize a unique sq. on the infamous Dungeons & Dragons morality grid. However Carnahan loves his over-the-top motion set items, and he manages to show this humble, two-story police station into an elaborate slaughterhouse, utilizing the spatial geography to spring surprises on his characters and stage scenes of acrobatic gunplay. The director additionally loves his double crosses, which implies that we by no means fairly know what’s coming subsequent. The result’s a movie the place it appears like something can occur, which not solely retains us watching however, extra importantly, retains us entertained. In an motion film panorama cluttered with glum, straight-to-VOD knockoffs or bloated, self-important spectacles, it’s refreshing to search out one which remembers photos like these are purported to be enjoyable.

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