Steven Spielberg may be one of the worst things to happen to cinema in a very long time. His production company, Amblin Entertainment, known for crafting films about children in perilous danger, has been shamelessly ripped off and imitated for the past decade. It’s created some of the most piss poor blockbusters films, including Jurassic World, Super 8, Transformers, etc. I will also add that all of the previous films mentioned were produced by Spielberg himself. While Cop Car isn’t involved with Spielberg in any way, we can add another rip off to the list.
Kevin Bacon stars as the villainous, Sheriff Kretzer, a corrupt lawman that is first seen carrying a body to a hole in the ground. Little context is given as to whom’s body this is and why they are being taken, but you could assume it was for good reason. We’re also introduced to the two mischievous children, played by James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford, on the run from their particular caregivers, and Camryn Manheim as Bev, an unfortunate onlooker to the mayhem that will occur. All these people will get involved with the Coen Brothers-esque activities and catastrophes that happen around them throughout the incredibly overlong 88 minute film.
Cop Car‘s misfortune is that it may center around two of the most annoying children I have seen on the screen in a long time. I wish upon all the people that thought the kid from The Babadook to see this movie. Not only are the children a confusing mix of precocious and stupid, but their relationship is confused between a disturbed sense of brotherhood and hatred. Sure, children can be cruel, but I don’t know why these kids would want to be around each other. If the kids annoyance is a part of the film, I don’t know what purpose it had to get me to enjoy it.
I can’t come up with a decent reason to dislike the performances of the adults, though. Kevin Bacon is a real treat as the aforementioned, Sheriff Kretzel. Bacon slithers and grunts along with such ease that it’s hard not to enjoy any of the scenes he is in, which surprisingly feel like they are few and far between. Manheim is well cast as the worrying and bothersome, Bev. Her character has very little to do, but Manheim is well cast, nonetheless.
A strength of Cop Car is the dark humour and beautiful visuals throughout. Watching Bacon struggle with a dead body in a tarp is a particular delight, but his deliveries are top-notch. I definitely want to praise the surprising Shea Whigham in a small, but hilarious role that I won’t spoil here. Cop Car is not lacking in decent performances.
Director Jon Watts is also a highlight in the incredibly mixed drama. All the actors meld together well and the editing choices are on par with some of the best I’ve seen this year. The screenplay, also by Watts, is another story. With so much attention pointed towards the boys, the movie lacks a sense of purpose because we don’t really learn anything about them. With Bacon’s character, we learn so many different things because of subtle hints in the background. With the children, all they do is drive around a field in a stolen cop car and there’s no room for subtleties there.
The sad thing is that Cop Car had so much potential. With an incredible performance from Kevin Bacon, an absurdly fun premise, and a chance to look at a movie from the future director of the new Spider-Man. Things just don’t work out. Children in danger don’t seem as much fun anymore.