Cop Land (Blu-ray)
In 1997 nobody thought Sylvester Stallone could act. Aside from ROCKY, he was basically a one trick pony – action flicks (TANGO AND CASH), action flicks (RAMBO), and more action flicks (DEMOLITION MAN). Nobody (himself included) thought that he could do anything different… and then came COP LAND. Robert Patrick, who had a breakout role playing the liquid metal morphing T-1000 in TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY, hadn’t really gotten to play anything else in the years since… and then came COP LAND. First time feature director James Mangold (WALK THE LINE) makes a Scorsese-esque morality tale and gives new life to the careers of Stallone and Patrick, in addition to creating one of the finest dramatic films ever made.
COP LAND is the story of the small town of Garrison, New Jersey. Located just outside of New York City, Garrison is home to many (maybe crooked?) NYC Police Officers. The local Sheriff, Freddy Heflin (Stallone), always wanted to join the NYPD, but hasn’t been accepted due to being deaf in one ear (he lost his hearing saving someone’s life). He feels like he is accepted by the cops, but really they walk all over him. Freddy has allowed things to get out of control, though, and now the cops are bringing their inner city issues home with them.
Ray Donlon (Harvey Keitel) is the leader of this group of cops in Garrison. He’s dirty, a cop linked to the murder of other officers and who’s being investigated by Internal Affairs Officer Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro) because of a series of mysterious coincidences, i.e. shootings, accusations of mob ties, drugs, and more. The most recent incident involved Ray’s nephew Murray (Michael Rapaport), nicknamed “Superboy” for saving several children from a NYC fire. While driving under the influence, Murray is involved in an officer-involved shooting which results in the deaths of two young men. When it appears that he is at fault, Ray helps to engineer his disappearance, and we’re set into motion. From here we go on a journey with Freddy where he has to leave his comfort zone, ultimately challenging his own beliefs to confront the people he cares about.
This transformation of Freddy is what makes the movie shine. Watching Stallone play a shy, introverted sheriff without hearing in one ear sounds like a bad after-school special, but Mangold saw the talent and trusted that it would work. Stallone delivers a performance for the ages; easily the best performance in the film despite being on screen with heavyweights from beginning to end. He is incredible as Freddy slowly decides to stand up for what is right in the face of all his ‘friends’, despite the danger it may present. Right beside him with another powerful performance is Ray Liotta as officer Gary Figgis (nicknamed Figgsy). Liotta’s coke addicted police officer who cares desperately for Freddy is one of those characters who you can’t help but love, even though you know he’s done terrible things in his time. Keitel and Liotta are especially good together throughout the film, and Patrick shows his chops as well.
COP LAND is the kind of drama that comes around once every few years, but you’ll rarely see one done better than here. In addition to great casting the script is phenomenal. From scene to scene, everything moves like a freight train, picking up momentum until finally it cannot be stopped without a violent disruptive force. COP LAND is, quite simply, a tour de force from beginning to end. Grab it. Watch it. Enjoy it. You’re welcome.
Video: (1080p, 1.85:1 Widescreen) A nice presentation of a great film. The colors pop and are muted when appropriately. The Blu-ray transfer is clean and looks like it was shot yesterday.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The picture is accompanied by some great sound that really makes you feel like you are right there with Freddy. Especially nice is the sound mixing in the final moments.
Audio Commentary with Writer/Director James Mangold, Actors Sylvester Stallone and Robert Patrick, and Producer Cathy Konrad: This is a decent commentary, but it’s primarily a love-fest. The best parts are at the start of the movie, when they talk about some of the acting choices and how difficult it was to cast (even though actors were clamoring for the film). Midway through the film the commentary suffers a bit as they all get drawn into re-watching the film, which is fine except for the pauses that get longer and longer. Not a must.
Cop Land: The Making of an Urban Western (14:21) A standard definition featurette from the DVD release. This one is interesting primarily for writer/director Mangold’s discussions of how this film is similar to a western… it’s not something that I thought of while I watched and it adds some interesting layers to the film.
Storyboard Comparison (01:59) A short side-by-side comparison of one of the scenes from the movie. Pretty cool how they put it together. It’s very technical but short enough that anyone who enjoyed the movie could have fun watching it.
Deleted Scenes: Two scenes available with or without commentary. The scene Car Chase (03:14) was cut for pacing. Profile (01:39) is a short scene that was cut because they felt it was redundant. Interestingly, both of these scenes provided just a touch more detail that would have been nice.