Review: Cop Land (1997)

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Cop Land

Cop Land

Rating

Director

James Mangold

Screenplay

Cop Land

Length

1h 45m

Starring

Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Peter Berg, Janeane Garofalo, Robert Patrick, Michael Rapaport, Annabella Sciorra, Noah Emmerich, Cathy Moriarty, John Spencer, Frank Vincent, Malik Yoba, Arthur Nascarella, Edie Falco, Victor L. Williams

MPAA Rating

R

Basic Plot

A Cop-Town sheriff cannot decide whether to look the other way or turn his back on his fellow officers.

Review

Ever felt like an outcast in a place where you were on top or at least thought you were?

“Cop Land” is an interesting examination of a small town created for and by cops to reside peacefully without the interruption of their less-corrupt counterparts.

Garrison, New Jersey is the cop town where the cops work for the mob and the sheriff works for the cops.

Sylvester Stallone is Sheriff Freddy Heflin a partially deaf law officer kept off the NYPD because of his condition. He harbors regrets, but feel so blest to have such a respected position in a town of NYPD cops that he can’t bring himself to turn against them.

After our introduction to Heflin, we witness a young, inexperienced cop (Michael Rapaport) gun down the passenger and driver of a car who try to push him off the road and brandish something that looks like a weapon.

When the NYPD arrives on the scene, they quickly attempt to control the situation, going so far as to plant a gun in the car, only to be stopped by paramedics who have already been on the scene and know that there was no gun.

The rookie’s uncle, Ray Donlan (Harvey Keitel), arranges to fake the rookie’s suicide and offer to change his name and ship him somewhere he can hide out.

The only problem is that Internal Affairs, led by Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro), has long suspected corruption within Donlan’s town, but lacks the evidence he needs to bring a conviction. He must turn to Sheriff Heflin to try and get the information only to be turned away.

Harvey Keitel is his usual mobster self and De Niro takes on an uncharacteristically mentally stable role.

Stallone is surprisingly good in a role that normally would not seem to suit him. Janeane Garofalo is in rare and great dramatic form as Stallone’s deputy.

Other famous names appearing in the film include Ray Liotta as Gary “Figgsy” Figgis as the unwitting accomplice and soon-to-be victim in the game of hide the rookie. “Chicago Hope’s” Peter Berg plays a bratty cop, Joey Randone, who succumbs to greed.

Annabella Sciorra plays Joey’s wife Liz. Sheriff Heflin had rescued her from drowning only to be rewarded with her marriage to Joey.

Cathy Moriarty is Rose Donlan, Ray’s wife. “L.A. Law’s” John Spencer is Leo Crasky a high-ranking NYPD officer who is as much a player as any of them.

The story is told very well, but is intermixed with some interminable stretches of boredom. The ending is well crafted with a slow lead in. The ensemble is on par but rarely exceeds it.

“Cop Land” is an interesting film that allows its flaws to overwhelm it in the end while never realizing its full potential.

Review Written

November 26, 1998

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