By Chase Whale | August 3, 2015
Director: Jon Watts
Writers: Jon Watts, Christopher D. Ford
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Shea Whigham, Camryn Manheim, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford
Hell hath no fury like a relentless Kevin Bacon who wants his cop car back.
Cop Car is going to be one of your new favorite movies. The plot is simple enough to be summed up in 12 words: two misfits steal a cop car and the cop wants it back. But don’t let my boring synopsis scare you away. Cop Car is a deftly written and directed movie with car chases, violence, mayhem, and a cold and ruthless Kevin Bacon. This movie is absolute madness.
If you missed the plot in the paragraph above, I’ll expand because I need to make this review a lot longer than 86 words.
Cop Car begins as two misfits known by their parents as Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford) are walking through a field, bored and seeing who can come up with the worst cuss word or phrase. They stumble upon what seems to be an abandoned cop car. There’s a half-drank bottle of beer sitting on top of it but not a sign of a cop anywhere in sight.
So, they do what any 10-year-old would: steal it.
Since the only kind of driving these kids know is simulated on a television, it takes them a moment to get the car going (“R means go backwards and P means stop,” says Harrison). Once they figure it all out, the racket begins. At first Travis is worried about getting into trouble, but Harrison comforts him by letting him know that if anyone sees or catches them, they can say they are cops. Sounds reasonable enough for Travis. And off they go…
Now to the cop. Kevin Bacon plays Kretzer, the up-to-no-good pig who is the sheriff of a small town. Once he comes back from being up-to-no-good, Kretzer discovers his car is gone and we learn why and how he lost it. Panic sets in, not because he’s a cop and his car was stolen, but because there is a man tied up inside the trunk.
The man in the trunk is played by one of the coolest actors currently working, Shea Whigham. We never learn why he’s tied up, bloody and beaten in the trunk, but the boys quickly discover this man is just as sinister as Kretzer. My only nag about Cop Car is Whigman’s screen time — it’s not enough. I wish he was more than just a peripheral character, but I will take what I can get.
Kretzer first attempts to get his ride back by communicating with the boys via a CB radio. Once the boys learn the sheriff is not a good man, they refuse to give up the car and become the albatross around Kretzer’s neck. That’s when Cop Car turns up the heat to a gnarly cat-and-mouse chase. This chicken coop wastes no time getting right to the meat of the story.
What’s pretty brilliant is how co-writer and director Jon Watts makes you view Kretzer. You can feel the rapid fire of anxiety and panic as he scrambles to get his car before getting caught, and a little bit inside of you hopes he gets what he wants. You kind of want the bad guy to win. One thing is certain: Kevin Bacon makes being bad look so good.
I just wrote 545 words just to say this movie is kick-ass. Cop Car is thrilling, succulent, edge-of-your seat entertainment. Buckle up because you’re in for a wild ride.