Take a Drink: when you first see Kevin Bacon’s cheesy evil mustache.
Take a Drink: when you see two 10-year-old boys somehow manage to drive a car and not crash.
Have a Shot and a Beer: when you see the boys attempt target practice with the Sheriff’s guns on each other.
By: Rob Perez (A Toast) –
If you’re running away from home, “don’t steal a fucking cop car”, says Kevin Bacon’s character Sheriff Kretzer at one death defying moment. If you see a cop car parked in a field in the middle of nowhere, don’t steal a fucking cop car. And if you have Kevin Bacon chasing you in a pickup truck after you stole his cop car, you’re going to regret stealing his fucking cop car. In 88 minutes, director Jon Watts nicely delivers a slick homage to grindhouse cop chase thrillers, complete with an evil game between two very diabolical characters, and two unlikely victims responsible for causing one wild shoot ‘em up . . . all because they stole a fucking cop car!
Hard to believe two 10-year-olds could cause so much trouble, but it’s not entirely their fault. Kevin Bacon is Sheriff Kretzer, who’s on a chase for his car which contains dangerous cargo that tells you the kind of corrupt cop he really is. The kids, runaways on the run for what seems to be less than a few hours, too soon to put out an Amber alert (and who no one seems to be looking for anyway), find an abandoned cop car and take it upon themselves to “investigate.” Lo and behold, they find the keys and off they go on a joyride that leads to their worst day ever. We then go back to earlier in the day when Kretzer parks his car and unloads some cargo – a body he disposes off in a well that he hauls the body to (why he just doesn’t park closer to it we don’t know). Upon his return he discovers his car is missing and off he goes searching for it, but not until convincing dispatch his radio is on the fritz to buy himself time to look for his car and what else Kretzer is hiding in it.
The film doesn’t waste a lot of time getting to the meat of the story as all of the above occurs within the first moments of the film. Never a slow moment, the film paces itself well, trying to give us as much backstory without much dialogue and even leaving some important details out that you never really need to know in order to follow the film. For instance, all we know about Kretzer is that he’s bad, so why when he manages to get back to his place does he have drugs he’s getting rid off and other items that would surely involve questioning? We never know. Did the kids really run away or are they just playing around pretending they’ve run away from home? And why is there another body in the trunk of the cop car—yep, there were two—alive and beat up with dried blood all over his face? Those questions are never answered but those loose ends really don’t need to be explained and that’s what’s so good about Cop Car.
The action sequences, the character’s reactions, facial expressions, and of course a terrific ending which includes pretty menacing, gruesome threats made by the other criminal (played by Boardwalk Empire’s Shea Whigham) to the kids, played to a tee by James Freedson-Jackson (Travis) and Hays Wellford (Harrison), really keep you enthralled throughout the film. Even Camryn Manheim shows up as sort of the town tattle tale who alerts cops that she saw a couple of kids joyriding in a cop car. While her intentions were good she ends up being another unfortunate victim in this unknown crime caper that went down earlier with Kretzer and his two trunk buddies.
We’ve seen Kevin Bacon be bad but not this bad; he is just pure evil, especially when he radios the kids from his own radio he has in his pickup trunk after convincing dispatch again, to order all the other patrol units to switch their radios to a different frequency so he can speak to the kids alone. But Shea is a real thug who would happily kill the kids if he didn’t need them to extract revenge on Kretzer. So, to recap, we have a bad cop chasing kids down, a lowlife scum who threatens little kids, a film with lots of holes, hardly any dialogue, two bratty delinquents who don’t realize their actions will lead to all this mess, and a cop car that is as central to the story as the characters. Yep, it all has the makings of a film that’s well worth watching.