Movie Review - Cop Car

Director and co-writer Jon Watts doesn't provide any context or back story to this situation. He drops the audience into the middle of this scenario and only takes a minor step back. He doesn't take us far enough in reverse to understand or ultimately to care about any of these characters. Presumably, because the protagonists are children, we're supposed to care instinctively, but that's not enough. The film follows two, prepubescent boys, and it's only at the end do we get some semblance of who they are. Yet, it's too little, too late. The film also follows an adult who is the antagonist but we get little semblance of who he is as well. With a vague conclusion, this makes for a weak narrative.

James Freedson-Jackson stars as Travis, the blonde, short-haired boy. Hays Wellford co-stars as Harrison, the more pale-skin brunette with longer, dark hair. Both are either 11 or 12. At the top, they're seen walking together through a desert-like landscape. They're possibly in the southwest someplace, California, Nevada or maybe Texas. All of a sudden, they come across a seemingly abandoned, police cruiser. The cruiser is unlocked and has its keys inside. The two boys, not knowing how to drive, manage to drive the cruiser away.

Kevin Bacon (Mystic River and X-Men: First Class) also co-stars as Sheriff Kretzer. He's the owner of the police cruiser. What he did and what he was doing which made him leave the cruiser are revealed, but the ultimate reason or motive behind him aren't. The movie then becomes about Kretzer trying to find where the cruiser is and get it back. He's desperate and relentless.

Camryn Manheim (The Practice) and Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) have small roles as unnamed characters who help to ramp up the tension and increase the unease, but the centerpiece is the two children and Kretzer. Yet, Watts and his co-writer Christopher Ford never want to delve into those three. Watts and Ford craft a couple of good, suspenseful moments, but it culminates in a vague conclusion.

Kretzer's fate is decided, but the fate of the two children is literally left up in the air. Literally, Watts points the camera into the night sky and ends it there. This might be fine, if at the time one child's life weren't hanging in the balance, so as credits roll who knows if the child dies or not. If Watts doesn't care if the child lives or dies, why should I?

Two Stars out of Five.
Rated R for language, violence and brief drug use.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 27 mins.


Popular Posts