When James Mangold was announced as the official director to take on The Wolverine, the next installment in the X-Men franchise, his work on Walk the Line, Girl Interrupted, and 3:10 to Yuma were often mentioned in the same breath. While the often unmentioned Cop Land may not be his best or most recognized work, it deserves to be mentioned as one of Mangold’s many great movies. Cop Land is the nickname for Garrison, NJ a small suburb of New York city that is the home to a number of NYPD officers. The sheriff of the town Freddy Heflin, idolizes most of his constituents and their profession, but is limited to his role as Sheriff because he is deaf in one ear due to an accident. His opinion of the officers and his abilities soon come into question as he starts to uncover corruption and conspiracy amongst them. Aided by NYPD Internal Affairs officer Mo Tilden (Robert DeNiro), Freddy has to restore order to Cop Land.
The only way Stallone knows how.
Mangold put together a phenomenal cast for this film that works really well as an ensemble, supporting Stallone in the leading role. Throughout the film these characters felt really close to one another, and as an audience member it is easy to connect with their group and believe they are all neighbors and coworkers. In addition to Stallone and DeNiro, who are outsiders to the ensemble due to their characters’ role; Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Peter Berg, Michael Rapaport, Frank Vincent , Robert Patrick , Noah Emmerich, John Spencer, and Janeane Garofalo round out the cast.
This is a surprising turn for Stallone, who plays a much more subdued and humble character than he’s typically known for. He does well in the role but his physical stature at times did not feel it suited the role, ironic because he actually gained forty pounds for the part. Still, it may be Stallone’s best performance to date; it’s a shame he hasn’t done more roles with this much depth over the course of his career.
Then again, who needs depth...
Cop Land is a movie that can be enjoyed through repeat viewings, because it is technically sound but also very entertaining. While still at the beginning of his directorial and writing career, it is clear that Mangold took notes from his predecessors (Martin Scorcese in particular) and adapted those notes well into his own work. While not a masterpiece, Cop Land is a great film that is definitely worth a viewing on Netflix.
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