COPSHOP (2021)

Directed By: Joe Carnahan
Written By: Kurt McLeod & Joe Carnahan 
Story By: Mark Williams & Kurt McLeod 
Cinematography: Juanmi Azpiroz 
Editor: Kevin Hale

Cast: Frank Grillo, Gerard Butler, Alexis Louder, Toby Huss, Chad L. Coleman, Ryan O’Nan, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Kauai Lyman 

On the run from a lethal assassin, a wily con artist devises a scheme to hide out inside a small-town police station-but when the hitman turns up at the precinct, an unsuspecting rookie cop finds herself caught in the crosshairs.


This film came across as a welcome surprise. At first, I was interested in the cast and director but when I heard that the director was upset at the cut used upon release. I tried to stay away but my curiosity got the better of me.

Though I know director Joe Carnahan is upset with this cut of the movie. If this is the cut that he is disappointed with I would love to see his cut, because this cut constantly breathes life into certain cliches and keeps the action moving and the scenes exciting.

This is why it is upsetting to a degree that Joe Carnahan is one of the best action directors out there. Whose films feel tough, full of life, vital, and still manage to usually be exciting and surprising. Seems to have to try and get by while higher-profile projects he attaches himself to would be great but rarely seem to work out. Even though he does his best with lower budgeted films. There is always that what if. He got bigger budgets. Because he certainly gets the actors and his scripts are always character-driven with the action.

Though you have two action powerhouses on each side by Frank Grillo and a surprisingly likable hardass played by Gerard butler. What really amazes me in the film is the lead played by Alexis Louder, as she is all gusto. She can be rough and tough one minute and funny the next but always in a serious manner. She is no pushover and here she makes a kick-ass action debut that hopefully, we will see her in more of these types of films. As she damn near steals the whole movie. 

It also is nice to see an African American female in an action movie leading a role. She more than holds her own against these two known action movie veterans.

The film has minor weaknesses like it would have been nice to learn a little bit more about Frank Grillo’s character. As both actors are mysterious at first and slowly their true natures come to be shown. It would have been nice if there was still some mystery to them after a bit. As like the main character at first, you don’t know entirely who to trust and it keeps us on our toes.

Eventually, the film becomes a kind of siege movie as it seems everyone wants either into the police station or that certain prison block. Though considering the importance of everything that is on display you would think there would be more involved rather than the few that are eventually shown. 

Although Toby Huss does provide laughs and chills as a rival contract killer who seems to enjoy his job a little too much. Who is as diabolical as he is Goofy. 

While there is plenty of action and double-crosses what works for the film is how much the double-crosses are character-driven and feel more personal overall. Not easily forgettable even as it seems half the characters are at the end of their ropes. 

It manages to be a memorable crime thriller. That is also a lot of fun as it goes along. It never gets boring and uses its one location wisely and to the most extent. As it makes it feel vast rather than secluded. 

Maybe the reason why it is enjoyable is that it has a feel of ’80s and 90’s action. Thrillers with a modern-day flair. So that while not seen it feels like a throwback to those straight to video action films that were little hidden gems because they never tried to be more than what they knew they were. The type that seemed more like B-Movies that would air on HBO on Friday nights as their action offerings of extravaganza. 

This is a film best to go blindly into. Though definitely worth your time. As it doesn’t rewrite anything but works well within its genre and with its time 

Grade: B

DEN OF THIEVES (2018)

Written & Directed By: Christian Gudegast 
Story By: Christian Gudegast & Paul Scheuring 
Cinematography By: Terry Stacey 
Editor: Nathan Godley, Joel Cox & David Cox 

Cast: Gerard Butler, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Pablo Schrieber, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Meadow Williams, Brian Van Holt, Jordan Bridges, Dawn Olivieri, Maurice Compte, Evan Jones, Mo McRae 

A gritty L. A crime saga that follows the intersecting and often personally connected lives of an elite unit of the LA County Sheriff’s Dept. and the state’s most successful bank robbery crew as the outlaws plan a seemingly impossible heist on the Federal Reserve Bank of downtown Los Angeles.


I will be the first to admit this film is better than you might think it will be.

While you watch it. It seems to be a film that is inspired by HEAT and wants the audience to see both sides of the fence when it comes to the criminals and the cops chasing them. Though when it comes to the cops we only really see Gerard Butler’s home life and problems. When it comes to the criminals we see glimpses but mainly see 50 cent’s family and Pablo Schrieber’s planning.

At least when it comes to 50 cent’s daily the film adds some humor in the form of a warning to his daughters’ prom date. Which also helps humanize the character and the crew.

The film was in development for roughly fourteen years, where director Christian Gudegast and a writing partner had a blind deal with New Line Cinema in 2003. The project was also later supposed to be distributed by the now-defunct Relativity Media at one point as well. His original cut was 160 minutes long and had a different ending. Which would have added even more brooding to the film I am guessing.

The film is filled with testosterone galore with plenty of muscles up men with tank tops of their shirts off and sweaty. Using the guide or reasoning of working out of a home gym where they plan their caper.

It also seems to want to keep a kind of aggressive Mano e Mano tone. Where all the characters tend to be over the top tough and dangerous and females stay mostly in the background.

Though one is used as a kind of power play against one another. This only adds to the leaders of each side mutual respect but also a kind of sabotage they try against one another. As they know a showdown between them is coming and literally are sizing each other up.

Prior to filming, two separate boot camps were run in order to get the cops and the robbers in shape for their respective roles with both groups training separately to enforce a rival atmosphere. Interestingly, each group was trained differently by military consultant Paul Maurice.

O’Shea Jackson Jr.’s character is our introduction to this film and world as he is trying to be part of this crew as a getaway driver. He is the only new guy on the crew and goes through the ropes of intimidation. While also being forced by the cops to be an informant. He also seems to be our protagonist, but soon he and his storyline seem lost in the shuffle as the film begins to become a passing contest of one-up-manship between Pablo and Gerard.

While we wait for the heist that is promised to ensue. Most of the film is about the build-up of the different diversions and challenges thrown in front of each other and having to defeat or subvert in able to move forward and just as aggressive as the heist is these moves they make before are just as strong and motivated.

The film does offer beautiful visuals and quite stirring action sequences. As the heist fits all the required tension you want and expect. So that by the end it feels like a good modern-day heist caper film. Where we only learn of the logistics of the plan when it happens.

The film is building as it goes while we wait for the eventual showdown and release.

The film leaves you to wonder if the character of Gerard Butler was driven due to his failing marriage. So he seems more amped up and ready to go over the line. As it seems to be what he is good at and more capable of controlling even though supposedly more dangerous and unpredictable than a relationship. As at first he and his crew seem either dirty or more adept at bending the rules then they actually are eventually seen as pretty by the book.

By the end of the film, you have sympathy for the robbers as we meet their families and situations. Only to find out both sides were played against the other. By the end, it seems to try too hard to set itself apart by all of a sudden Introducing a twist. That while it works wasn’t really necessary.

It achieves what it set’s out to prove. It also doesn’t overthink itself or tries to show off for the audience more than what it has. Nor does it gloat or focus on any twists it offers up.

Grade: B

ROCKNROLLA (2008)

rocknrolla

Written & Directed By: Guy Ritchie
Cinematography By: David Higgs
Editor: James Herbert 


 Cast: Gerard Butler, Mark Strong, Tom Wilkinson, Idris Elba, Tom Hardy, Thandie Newton, Toby Kebbell, Jeremy Piven, Ludacris, Karel Roden, Jimi Mistry, Matt King, Gemma Arterton

Lenny Cole, a London mob boss, puts the bite on all local real estate transactions. For substantial fees, he’s helping Uri Omovich, a Russian developer. As a sign of good faith, Omovich loans Cole a valuable painting, promptly stolen off Cole’s wall. While Cole’s men, led by the dependable Archie, look for the canvas, three local petty criminals, the Wild Bunch, steal money from the Russian using inside information from his accountant, the lovely Stella. Meanwhile, a local drug-addled rocker, Johnny Quid, is reported drowned, and his connection to Cole is the key to unraveling the deceits and double crosses of life in the underworld.

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