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Movie review: "Cop Land"

August 20, 1997|By Jason Myers

Writer/director James Mangold must have had some bad experiences with Slim Fast as a child.

His first film, "Heavy," one of the most boring movies of all time, was all about an overweight cook and his inability to do ... well, anything.

"Cop Land" is mainly about an overweight small-town sheriff and his inability to do ... well, anything. Mangold does not just observe the ugliness of his characters, he relishes it. He also is the wrong director for the career reinvention of Sylvester Stallone.

The movie is too sprawling - it has more subplots than it does crooked cops, and with the all-star cast, Mangold has so much machismo on the screen at one time that the movie practically doubles over on itself.

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"Cop Land" would have been a great film if it had been stripped of about 10 characters, five side-stories - and flashbacks. There are so many conflicting plotholes that, to cover them up, Mangold has to stuff in forced dialogue and resort to whiplash editing so you don't know if what you are looking at is taking place in the present or several years in the past.

"Cop Land" is like a mob movie without the pasta or a Western without cowboy boots. It is so gorged on its themes of loyalty and honor that it runs roughshod over the characters it works so carefully to develop.

Freddie is a very fascinating figure, and Stallone, believe or not, plays him stunningly. He nails the passivity of the character with his hesitant mumble and his staggering gait. This shatters his chiseled image. Freddie is a strong enough personality to carry the film - but when "Cop Land" gets mixed up in its trite hunt for the Truth, it becomes just another movie of the week.

Jason Myers wants to Do the Right Thing.

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