Movie Review: “Cop Car”

Kevin Bacon, Hays Wellford, James Freedson-Jackson, Shea Whigham, Camryn Manheim
Jon Watts

After receiving mostly positive reviews at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, “Cop Car” is guaranteed to become one of the most talked-about indie releases of the year following the announcement that director Jon Watts has been chosen to helm Sony’s upcoming Spider-Man reboot. Though it’ll be interesting to see how Watts handles a big tentpole movie considering the stripped-down nature of “Cop Car,” his ability to wring suspense out of the simplest moments goes a long way in making the film a lot more engaging than you’d expect. “Cop Car” doesn’t quite rival the classic Coen brothers crime thrillers that have clearly influenced Watts as a filmmaker, but it’s a confident sophomore effort that benefits from a great performance by Kevin Bacon.

Set somewhere in rural Colorado, a pair of 10-year-old boys – cocky instigator Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and meek sidekick Harrison (Hays Wellford) – discover an abandoned cop car in the middle of the woods. After daring each other to touch it, and then mustering the courage to investigate further, the boys find the driver’s side door unlocked and the keys hidden inside, so they decide to take the car for a joy ride. The vehicle belongs to the corrupt Sheriff Kretzer (Bacon), who’s gotten caught up in some kind of criminal activity (the details of which are very sparse) and was off burying a body down the road at the exact time that Travis and Harrison happened upon his car. But unbeknownst to them, there’s another body in the trunk of the car that connects Kretzer to his bad deed, and he’ll do whatever it takes to get it back.

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The Light from the TV Shows: Pilot Season Ahoy!

It’s a sure sign that spring is on the verge of emerging when the networks start to let slip the names, premises, and attached actors for all of the pilots under consideration for the next TV season. Most of these pilots go nowhere, which is the way the cookie has always crumbled, but a few lucky programs end up getting the go-ahead for a series commitment. I don’t claim to have any real idea how the networks think – as a critic, it’s pretty much a given that I never know what the networks are thinking (and, in turn, they don’t care what I’m thinking) – but that doesn’t mean I’m afraid to give my thoughts on 15 of the pilots that I’d like to see come to fruition and join the fall schedules of their respective networks. You can check out a much fuller list from The Hollywood Reporter by clicking here, but in the meantime, here’s the stuff that I’m hoping to be TiVo’ing in a few months’ time….

1. Gilded Lilys (ABC)

It’s been quite awhile since a broadcast network has managed to sell viewers on a period piece set prior to the 20th century, so the fact that ABC is even considering this series, which takes place in 1895 and revolves around the first luxury hotel in New York, is proof of how much pull executive producer Shonda Rhimes has with the American Broadcasting Company. In truth, the big selling point for me is John Barrowman. This doesn’t exactly bode well for another season of “Torchwood,” but the dude deserves a big U.S. break. You never know: this could be it.

2. Untitled Louis C.K. / Spike Feresten Comedy (CBS)

Go on, admit it: you were sold the moment you saw the name “Louis C.K.,” weren’t you? And Spike Feresten isn’t bad, either. Seeing these two guys attached to this project is the only reason why it stands out, since the only real description available is that it’s an an ensemble comedy about a bunch of twentysomethings trying to make their dreams come true despite today’s crappy financial climate. But, damn, after two seasons of “Louie,” the idea of Louis C.K. putting his spin on anything makes it something that’ll surely be worth seeing. With that said, however, I hope Dan Byrd ends up not being available to do the show, as that will mean that “Cougar Town” has been renewed.

3. Animal Kingdom (NBC)

Two words: Tyler Labine. I mean, come on, America, what more does this loveable teddy bear of a comedy actor have to do to get a show to stay on the air for more than a season or two? NBC is, if memory serves, the last of the broadcast networks that has yet to cancel a series out from under Mr. Labine – “Invasion” was on ABC, “Reaper” was on The CW, “Sons of Tucson” was on Fox, and “Mad Love” was on CBS – and, frankly, this could be his last stop before the autograph-show circuit. Doesn’t Tyler Labine deserve a better fate than that? You’re damned right he does.

4. Untitled Kevin Williamson serial killer drama (Fox)

The man behind “The Vampire Diaries” brings Kevin Bacon to the small screen to play Ryan Hardy, a former FBI agent on the hunt for serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), who’s busy building himself a whole cult full of serial killers. If that isn’t enough to sell you, the cast also features Natalie Zea (“Justified”).

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