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Cop Car (Kevin Bacon) - Review

Cop Car

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

CULT status looms large for Jon Watts’ Cop Car, a twisted but fun thriller that revels in it’s ability to continually wrong-foot viewers.

When two runaway boys (played by James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford) happen across an unlocked cop car parked in the woods, they decide to take it for a spin.

What they fail to realise, however, is that its owner, corrupt town sheriff Kretzer (Kevin Bacon), has been in the area attempting to dispose of two bodies, the second of which remains in the trunk along with a stash of high powered guns. Kretzer must therefore use all of his wits to recover the car and cover his tracks.

Watts’ film is a lean affair that doesn’t waste too much time filling in the blanks. Rather, it places you firmly in the moment and proceeds to continually wrack up the tension.

Some may find the lack of back story surrounding the boys’ or the sheriff’s motivations frustrating but others will dig the no-nonsense approach and the subsequent air of uncertainty surrounding each situation, the gravity of which becomes ever more serious.

As both writer and director Watts (who is now in charge of Marvel’s Spider-Man reboot) takes a perverse delight in injecting plenty of dark, twisted humour into what really is a disturbing situation, an example of which can be found in a scene involving the boys using each other as potential target practice for their high calibre weapons – only to be thwarted by the safety catch on the weapons.

As absurdly amusing as such moments are, however, they’re balanced by an air of menace that pervades throughout, either from Bacon’s increasingly edgy sheriff or one of his potential victims (played by Boardwalk Empire‘s Shea Whigham), who even gets to offer up one genuinely chilling monologue (thereby underlining the film’s more serious and sinister side).

It is, however, a balance of humour and drama that works effortlessly well in keeping you gripped throughout the film’s tight 84 minute running time, and which also adds to a sustained sense of uncertainty. You’re never quite sure what’s going to happen next, or whether even the boys will be allowed to survive.

And credit also deserves to go to the film’s young stars, Freedson-Jackson and Wellford, for the way in which they gradually shift from plucky [but naughty] innocence to a maturity they never knew they would have to encounter so early in their lives.

Cop Car may not have made it into UK cinemas but it was a big hit at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. It’s easy to see why. It’s a minor classic that leaves a very big impression.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 84mins
UK Blu-ray & DVD Release: October 19, 2015