Theatrical Release: March 11, 1988
Blu Ray Release: March 1, 2016
Director: James B. Harris
Review by Travis North
It’s been a rough go of reviews lately for myself. Too much crap to sit through and take notes to get a reasonable length review created. So this disc came at the perfect time. Cop was one that I remember always seeing the video box of on the shelf, but it seemed more something your parents would rent for an adult “thriller”. Coming at this with fresh eyes allowed for an enjoyable experience.
There is one major reason to watch this movie, and that is for the great James Woods. He’s at his charming, jittery, balancing on a (coke) razor’s edge prime in Cop. He isn’t exactly playing a character as much as James Woods as a loose cannon policeman in LA. This does have that good, late 80’s feel to it, carrying in the tradition of manly cops like Dirty Harry or a Charles Bronson combined with the stylishness of Los Angeles. Woods is quite cynical, enough that his wife doesn’t like him telling their daughter bedtime stories of cases he has closed. He just wants her to be aware and not blind to the harsh realities of the world, but the wet blanket thinks he is warping her. In a classic bitch move, she writes him a Dear John note and takes his daughter away. You’d think this would turn into some Kramer vs. Kramer family drama dud, but thankfully Woods is more married to his work and is convinced there is a serial killer on the loose. He doesn’t seem too distraught either since he’s one horny bastard, boning any woman who crossed his path. Watching him get bored and anxious while trying to get into a hard core feminist’s pants is pure, undistilled Woods.
Our hero is protected from backlash from the uptight, Evangelical chief by his mentor Charles Durning. No one wants to hear about his serial killer theory because Evangelicals will flip out. Today serial killers are almost passé, but remember this is the glorious 80’s so it was during the Satanic Panic and parents were on edge and paranoid. Woods investigates on his own, eventually being forced to “turn in his gun and his badge”. Yes, there are clichés present in this.
What I never knew was this was adapted from a James Ellroy novel. That explains the focus on the scummier elements of LA, and is an early entry in neo-Noir. I’m sounding too pretentious, so I will point out Woods gets to suck on Randi Brooks’ glorious titties and says “faggot” a lot. The film takes some outlandish plot twists and builds to a kind of silly finale, and ends with a classic one liner. Fade to black. Very satisfying.
This isn’t a groundbreaking movie, but it is very watchable. Ellroy fans might be interested to see the adaptation, and is a must see for James Woods fans. The disc quality echoes the film, in that it’s ok but not great. Some scenes look good, other scenes look quite grainy. There is a commentary and trailer included, which are nice but not over the top in regards to special features. If you haven’t seen this before, I recommend to not watch the trailer first. It is always odd to have the finale of the movie in a preview. In general, this is a solid release.
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