Rewatched Cop Land (1997).
While watching it, I thought “hey this is a western" or at the least a Bad Day At Black Rock type of thing. Man, I'm so smart. Then afterwards I saw that the making of doc on the DVD was called "Cop Land: The Making Of An Urban Western"
I realized maybe I'm not so cleaver.
When I first saw Cop Land in the theater, I think I was terribly disappointed. We were all very excited about it, a cool cast. As for it’s star Sylvester Stallone, on the heels of Pulp Fiction remaking Travolta‘s career, this looked like the movie that could recreate his Staying Alive auteur into an actual actor after a twenty-five year mumbly slumber. Of course in retrospect, he did get some mild acclaim but then he jumped right back into the junk factory of straight-to-DVD crap and replaying Rocky and Rambo.
Seeing it for a second time, I didn’t have the same expectations. So for a Thursday night watch at midnight, it was very enjoyable. If not a little over the top and obvious. I can see that on paper the script was ‘cleaver’. At least cleaver enough to attract established heavyweights Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro. Of course these guys stopped being choosy about scripts a long time ago.
And check out the supporting cast of talent lead by Robert ‘T2’ Patrick and Cathy ‘what ever happened to her?” Moriarty. As well as Peter Berg, Janeane Garofalo, Michael Rapaport, Annabella Sciorra, Noah Emmerich, John Spencer, Edie Falco and Frank “go get your shine box” Vincent.
But the real star of the show obviously is Sly Stallone as dimwitted Freddy Heflin. He’s the big galoot New Jersey Sheriff of a town populated by New York City cops all deep in corruption, he’s been their mascot and is both admiring and envious of their big city careers. He was once on track to to go to join them in the police big-league but saving a drowning beauty (Sciorra) left him deaf in one ear and apparently semi- retarded. Things slowly unravel with a rift between cops Liotta and big dog Keitel starts to get ugly and the questionable suicide of a young cop (Rapaport) brings an internal affairs investigator (De Niro) to town. Freddy starts to open his eyes to the ugly scene around him which leads to a classic Western shootout: The Lone Sharif verse the corrupt owners of the town (High Noon, 3 Ten To Yuma, etc).
Stallone is very good, in some ways closer to the original Rocky then anything he’d done since his oscar nominated role. He slow and not too confident and gets pushed around the playground by the smarter kids. Instead of his usual blow-dried hair he spends most of the movie with a broken nose. Like Charlize Theron this is his Monster, his The Insider or his Monster’s Ball or... The Hunchback Of Notre Dame! This is his time to win an Oscar. After all, he put on weight and let his big gut hang out!
Unfortunately his supposed lack of narcissism in the role, begins to feel narcissistic.
Why can’t an actor just play a normal person or even inhuman person without calling attention to it “look I’m acting!”. And even though Sly’s idea of a deaf-in-one-ear guy is closer to Slingblade then Van Gogh he is ultimately effective in the part.
The biggest problem actually is in the films style or lack off. It’s so dull looking. It’s so poorly paced and edited. And it has a terrible clichéd TV Movie score (composed by the over worked Howard Shore). Ironically, ten years later director James Mangold would shoot a real Western, the excellent 3:10 to Yuma remake, which would have the best score of the year (by Marco Beltrami).
But enough about these other people, the story here is Stalone’s special day. All hale Sly! He actually took a break from sleepwalking and gave acting a shot. What’s next for him? Stop Or My Mom Will Shot Two?