Kids will be kids. So two young children (James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford) are on day one of running away from home. A mysterious sheriff (Kevin Bacon) is transporting the first of two bodies from his vehicle to a freshly dug grave in the middle of the forest. When the kids stumble across his car and decide to test their driving skills, absolutely nothing good can come of their adventure. I knew very little about this before I sat down to give this a spin; I want to say that I watched a trailer at some point in time, but that’s about it. I was very pleasantly surprised with how quickly this roped me in with an intriguing set up, and I award major points for starting this off so quickly and attention grabbing.
You get to know these two kids very quickly. This opens with them walking, exchanging swear words and daring each other to do stupid, childish things. It becomes very obvious which one is the one with poor impulse control and which one just goes along with things due to peer pressure. The things that they do are so adolescent, it only makes it all the more jarring when they make the situation worse. For example, when this is starting out, they are daring each other to simply touch the cop car, and then scamper away. They’re at that level of maturity, so when they are later playing with the heavy duty weaponry that the cop left in the back seat, it makes it all the more alarming and panic-inducing. These kids get into so much trouble, and they are so oblivious to the extent that they are in over their heads, you are on pins and needles for the entirety of the film.
I’m also loving this stage of Kevin Bacon’s career. He’s choosing roles that are against type and interesting, and between this and his role in Super (one of my very favorites), I get excited whenever I see his name on the billing. After the introduction to the kids, Bacon immediately gets to showcase the extent of his range. There is always a mystery surrounding him, and you never get a full realization of where he falls on the scale of good to evil, which keeps the story interesting. I love films that allow you to make up your own mind on how you feel about a character, and this is definitely one of those movies. Cop Car has a great set-up, and with all the negative things surfacing about police officers nowadays, it has timely commentary as well. This is smart filmmaking, and while I did really enjoy the film Mud a couple of years back, Cop Car gave me everything I was looking for in that film in a more compact package.
Cop Car (2015) ****
– Critic for Hire