Cop Car (2015) Directed by Jon Watts. With Kevin Bacon, Hays Wellford and James Freedson-Jackson.
Based on title alone, Jon Watts’s Cop Car isn’t a film that’s going all out to sell itself, but, with Kevin Bacon playing ‘bad cop’ and a running time of just over 80-mins, what we have is a tight, strikingly shot little crime-thriller, reminiscent of an episode of the recent Fargo TV-series. Watts co-writes and directs, introducing us to characters using the bare minimum of back-story, leaning back on visual storytelling as the audience is allowed to imagine what has led to the events the film opens with.
Right off the bat, there’s a ‘Stand By Me’ feel, as we meet two mischievous young boys walking through a field, playing some kind of call-and-answer game of swear words. Initially, it’s an amusing intro, but it isn’t long before they make an unusual discovery, which sets the tone of what is to come.
Without giving too much away, their day crosses paths with Kevin Bacon’s Sheriff Kretzer, a cop on the wrong side of the law. In recent years, Bacon has enjoyed sending himself up in commercials for mobile-phone companies, and in a moment, we’re quickly reminded what a beguiling screen presence he is, as he reaches to the dark side to reveal a no-so enthusiastic need to ‘serve and protect’. Partly due to the events that transpire, there’s something inherently comical about Bacon’s portrayal (the 70’s moustache helps), so much so that in the balance of things, we’re invited to root for him, to a point.
As well as some beautifully composed wide shots of skies and cars on roads, there’s a smart anti-gun message woven into the story, which isn’t heavy-handed, but one that clearly states a point by way of what occurs. While it was never destined to change the world, win awards or break the internet, Cop Car is nevertheless a film you could quite easily miss, and that’d be a shame. 3.5/5