A combination of coming-of-age, car chase actioner and black comedy, “Cop Car” is one of the most unusual and engaging thrillers in recent memory. The film, which had a brief theatrical run this summer, will be released on Blu-ray September 29, 2015 (via Universal Pictures Home Entertainment).
It’s also refreshingly lean, with a concise premise: two young boys running away from home find an abandoned cop car, decide to take it for a joyride and discover that the police officer they stole it from is as crooked and evil as they get.
The cop in question is Sheriff Kretzer played by Kevin Bacon, a drug addicted, easily addled creature trying to cover up some murderous activity. Once he’s able to contact the boys (played by James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford) via CB, he assures them he only wants the car returned and no harm will come to them. And asks that they don’t check the trunk. You can guess where this is going.
The exact reasons for Bacon’s motives, and the cargo of the trunk are never fully explained, and they don’t need to be. It’s the ever ratcheting tension that builds between Bacon catching up with the kids, as well as the additional conflict of the car’s hidden cargo that drives the plot.
Bacon is a wonderful patchwork of disheveled menace, and Freedson-Jackson and Wellford are endearing and humorous (even if their characters are incredibly dimwitted). Their infectious joy they express in exhibiting bad behavior is only matched by the terror they express when they realize the gravity of their situation.
Additional support is given by Shea Whigam and Camryn Mannheim in short but memorable rolls.
Towards the end of the film, things get a bit uneven, but director Jon Watts (who will be helming the upcoming Spider-Man reboot for Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox) keeps things moving briskly, pausing for moments of painterly compositions in the Colorado countryside. And the simple act of seeing two small children driving a car at dangerous speeds is compelling in and of itself.
The HD transfer looks great on Blu-ray, but don’t look for much in the way of special features. The sole extra is “Their First and Last Ride: The Making of Cop Car” which is a sparse behind-the-scenes that felt tacked on and perfunctory.
Final verdict: “Cop Car” is a taut film full of unexpected quiet moments in-between action set pieces and interesting quirky characters. It’s lean exoskeleton of a plot shouldn’t put you off it’s thrill ride jolts.