Cop Land

MPAA Rated – R
It’s 1:45 Long
A Review by:
Stu Gotz

Cop Land
Movie Stats & Links
Starring: Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro
MPAA Rated: R
Released By: Miramax
Release Date: 1997
Kiddie Movie: Lots of use of the “F” word, and a nudie bar scene so I’d say probably not.
Date Movie: It’s a good drama, bring them along.
Gratuitous Sex: Some boob shots in the nudie bar.
Gratuitous Violence: Some quality kills, blood, and a gory burn victim.
Action: No real high speed car chases in this one, but some pretty good suspense type scenes.
Laughs: Not really.
Memorable Scene: None stand out, just the whole movie is good.
Memorable Quote: Again, none stand out.
Directed By: James Mangold

I’ll be honest with you, when I first heard about “Cop Land” all I knew was that Sylvester Stallone was to star in the movie. Knowing this I honestly thought the movie was doomed to be cheesy. Let’s face it folks, Stallone has a knack, or maybe a curse, that in any movie he has top billing, although often action packed and entertaining, it tends to be over-acted and unbelievable. I call it the “Stallone Factor.” With that I wrote the movie off. But then I heard that Di Niro, Liotta, and Harvey “The Bad Lieutenant” Keitel were also in the movie. Hmm… maybe this movie would be good after all. You know what? It wasn’t good… It was GREAT! Best cop/mob drama I’ve seen in a long time, and maybe that Stallone curse is lifted!

Unlike other cop and mob movies, “Cop Land” doesn’t overdue stereotypes and avoids all those cliché high speed chase scenes that end up in monumental explosions. Instead, we are given an overweight, droopy Sheriff Freddy Heflin (Stallone) who desperately wants to be an NYPD Cop. Problem is he’s partially deaf, and therefore winds up being the patsy Sheriff of a podunk New Jersey town. This really doesn’t sit all that well with him, but what else is he to do? Harvey Keitel plays Ray Donlan – You can think of him as the “Godfather” of bad cops, and it’s a role he plays well. All of the bad cops in New York’s 34th precinct report to him, and he keeps the heat off them courtesy of mob money.

Now, in order to keep better tabs on his men and get some pretty safe housing at cheap interest rates, Ray and the mob boys have worked it out over the years so that the players in this cop game get the low interest loans, usually in exchange for bending the law and always keeping their mouths shut. Basically the cops of the 34th own Garrison, New Jersey (didn’t Pullman try something similar in Chicago?), and this land has its own rules, which Sheriff Freddy really has no control over. Anyway, “Cop Land” also has the likes of Gary “Figs” Figgis, played by Ray Liotta, as a coked out (and I’m not talkin’ soda) cop who wants out of it all. This doesn’t sit too well with Ray. And lastly, we have the smooth, NYPD Internal Affairs Investigator, Moe Tilden (Robert Di Niro), who knows what’s going on and desperately wants to expose it all, but he doesn’t have that one piece of evidence to put the case together. So, how does it all play out? Well… I don’t want to spoil it for. Just know this – Ray is one heartless mother-fucker, Sheriff Freddy gets a spine, and a lot of bad cops wind up dead.

For me the best way to describe “Cop Land” is “believable.” Sitting there in the theater I really felt sorry for poor, dim-witted Sheriff Freddy, I felt rage when I thought about what a ruthless bastard Ray was, and I just loved Di Niro’ s portrayal of a sneaky and cynical IA officer. With that being said I give “Cop Land” 4 of 5 stars. A great movie – ’nuff said, and I’m Stu Gotz.