Copshop is a Fun Action Movie Throwback (Review)

Joe Carnahan’s latest action movie, Copshop, has arrived and manages to capture the fun of older action flicks even as the plot stumbles.

To be entirely honest, I had almost no expectations for Copshop. The trailers looked fun, but it wasn’t exactly a movie I can say was high on my list of “must watch” films. So imagine my surprise when I sat down to watch Joe Carnahan’s latest, as had an absolute blast.

Directed By: Joe Carnahan
Written By: Joe Carnahan and Kurt McLeod
Starring: Alexis Louder, Frank Grillo, Gerard Butler
Release Date: September 17, 2021

The story seems as though it has a fairly simple premise. Rookie police officer, Valerie Young (Alexis Louder), is looking to serve up justice and the community in her small Nevada town. After picking up a Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo) for what seems to be nothing more than an assault, Val finds herself in the middle of a battle between rival hitmen, shady cops, and a conspiracy that goes all the way up to the murder of the State’s Attorney General.

It sounds like a lot, but the way the information is presented in the story makes it fairly easy to follow. Teddy is a conman on the run, looking to save himself from legendary hitman, Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler). They both get themselves thrown into the same jail, putting the officers inside smack in the middle of their fight. Teddy’s list of enemies is long, however, and soon the whole station finds themselves under siege, with only Valerie left to handle it.

In many ways, watching Copshop felt like watching an old-school, late 90s/early 00s action movie. It brings in some of those (nonsensical) story sensibilities and humor, while infusing itself with some over-the-top action sequences. None of the stuff seen is accurate, or likely to happen in real life, but you’re having so much fun watching it, you simply don’t care.

Here’s the thing, the story isn’t all that important here. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fairly interesting and brings in some story threads that have a lot of cool potential. By the final act, however, it doesn’t really do a whole lot with them. In fact, Copshop seems to lose its own thread by the end and begins to feel like it’s trying to tell a different story from where it started.

Generally speaking, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The story beats continue to drive the action forward in some fun ways while keeping you invested. The problem, however, is that some of the more interesting storylines are significantly shortened, wrapping up a bit too fast, or dropped entirely. I don’t want to get into any spoilers, but Gerard Butler’s stone-cold hitman character feels particularly underutilized by the third act, considering the amount of setup that goes into him.

The end result is a finale that feels like it’s lacking oomph. The action is on point, and as bombastic as you’d hope, but with the story aspect lagging, it all feels a bit muted. What could have been a super tense/immersive finale is reduced to just being a visual delight.

That said, there’s plenty of reason to still give Copshop a gander. For one, the characters/actors are an absolute blast. Frank Grillo and Gerard Butler do their best to out one-line each other as grizzled, badass villains. Their banter between one another is fun, natural, and helps bring the story together in some of the best ways. Toby Huss’ Anthony Lamb was another highlight in the film, but that’s a joy best experienced for yourself first-hand.

Who impressed me most, however, was the relative newcomer, Alexis Louder. She stood toe-to-toe with these action-movie vets, exchanging witty comebacks, and exuding bravado as if she’s been doing it her whole life. It was pretty impressive to see, and I never once doubted she could hold her own with the badasses in the film’s story. Truly, it felt like watching the rise of a new action-movie star and she seems like one to watch.

Speaking of action, there’s plenty of it in the film. Though the majority of the film is limited to the single setting, they make excellent use of it, managing several unique feeling sequences that left me smiling and exclaiming “holy shit.” Again, it feels more old school as there aren’t tons of explosions or intricately detailed fight scenes. It’s a bunch of shoot outs, essentially, but they’re still riveting.

I know I seem to keep saying this, but “fun” really is the best way to describe watching Copshop. It’s not a “great” movie by any stretch, and the plot kinda fizzles by the end, but there’s no denying the huge smile I had on my face the whole run time. I had a blast, and I’m definitely looking forward to watching it again.

Sadly, it’s limited to a theater release only. While it’s a fun movie, it certainly feels like the kind of flick that would have benefited from some sort of day-and-date VOD release. It’s exactly the kind of dumb, turn off your brain, fun for chilling on your couch with the lights off and a bowl of snacks. I’m not sure that experience will translate to heading to the theater (especially up against other big films while we’re still dealing with the pandemic).

If you’re feeling comfortable enough to head to a theater and want to see an action-flick (that isn’t Shang-Chi), Copshop is a solid choice. If you’re unsure, or don’t want to head out of doors just yet (depending on where you live), this should be an instant pick-up the minute it hits VOD.

Just Old-School Action Movie Shenanigans
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Editor-in-Chief: Writer and cartoonist who went to college for post-production, he now applies his love of drawing, movie analysis, filmmaking, video games, and martial arts into writing.