James Mangold directs Sylvester Stallone, Ray Liotta and Harvey Keitel in this crime drama where the sad sack sheriff, in a town built by corrupt NYPD cops, begins to question his duties.
A New Jersey High Noon. So many exciting names here doing solid to spectacular work. Robert De Niro. Michael Rapaport. Cathy Moriarty. Robert Patrick. Janeane Garofalo. Annabella Sciorra. Edie Falco. It can feel pretty bunged up on early watches. Akin to L.A. Confidential – this is a mood piece and a character piece that races through 600 pages of literary plotting. If you give it a few chances and become less concerned with the quagmire conspiracy of Internal Affairs, arson attacks and missing “superboy”s then the texture and melancholy of this sad little community really starts to wash over you and impress. In 1997, post-Tarantino, this felt a little trad and run-of-the-mill. Now, Cop Land’s mature dealing with ideas of regret, heroics and helplessness make it seem like quite the rare bird. Seventies New American Cinema is a clear influence. Stallone does career best work as the overweight and half deaf town teddy bear who polishes up his badge and does the right thing. Keitel gets the showiest role as the town father figure turned ingratiating tyrant. And Liotta relishes probably his finest post-Goodfellas part as the cokehead has-been with the knowledge of a sage and a heart of gold. All three performances elevate the movie into ‘forgotten classic’ territory. The rousing finale where Stallone’s vulnerable Sheriff Freddy Heflin cleans house, through a fog of agonising white noise, is cathartic sustained action at its very best.
Perfect Double Bill: Clockers (1995)
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