After making a critically acclaimed debut with the low-budget independent drama Heavy, writer-director James Mangold took on this gritty crime drama, which was highly touted as Sylvester Stallone's long-awaited return to a... more » serious dramatic role. With an illustrious cast of costars, including GoodFellas alumni Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Ray Liotta, Stallone plays Freddy Heflin, the ineffectual sheriff of a New Jersey suburb that a group of corrupt New York cops have turned into their own off-duty criminal empire. Deaf in one ear and desperate to prove his worth, the sheriff takes on the cops with standoffish assistance from an Internal Affairs cop (De Niro), resulting in an explosive climactic showdown. The stellar cast can't be beat, and Stallone is quite good as the overweight cop whose pride is on the line. Mangold's script is wildly uneven, but the film still packs a white-knuckled punch. --Jeff Shannon« less
Jason C. (JJC) from NEWARK, NJ Reviewed on 1/6/2008...
This is a great film, and simply a solid and more different Sylvester Stallone performance.
"Cop Land" centers around a bunch of corrupt New York City cops, who all reside in a peaceful town called Garrison, NJ (a fictional town, don't go looking for it), right at the Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. Policing the town is a sheriff department of three, led by the very docile Freddy Heflin (Stallone).
However, these cops aren't just corrupt, they're actually part of a mafia family. In charge of the family in the town of Garrison, is Ray (Harvey Kietel), who gave Freddy the job as sheriff, due to his very kind nature and controllable attitude, blind to the things Ray is doing. Freddy is also deaf in one ear, due to an accident during his teenage years in saving the love of his life, whom I might add married someone else (yes, a member of Ray's cop family). This handicap is what prevented Freddy from becoming a New York Cop, a personal dream of his. Truly befriending Freddy and guiding him is Mike Figgis (Ray Liotta), another "family" cop who at one time was Ray's right hand man, until something happened between them, and now Figgis wants out and wants nothing to do with any of them.
Ray's nephew, "Superboy" Babidge (Michael Rappaport), gets into a huge unfortunate dilemma, when he kills two black men on the GW Bridge in his way home from an intoxicating party. Ray decides to fake his nephew's death and hide him, so they can figure things out and keep Internal Affairs away. Only one problem, Freddy realizes 'Superboy' is alive. Also knowing 'Superboy' is alive just on instinct alone, is head of Internal Affairs Moe Tildon (Robert De Niro) who has been working on the "Garrison Case" for sometime.
Tildon decides to pay Freddy a visit, asking for his help to bring down Ray and his family of cops. Freddy doesn't want to believe that his friends are up to no good, and therefore doesn't bite. But Freddy starts to realize that something indeed stinks in his town. Meanwhile, Ray has plans of his own, killing his own nephew. Fearing that his nephew will spill his guts about the family, Ray attempts to have him killed. 'Superboy' escapes Ray, and is now hiding somewhere in the town. He pays a visit to Freddy in hopes of help, but gets scared off when he sees the likes of Figgis hangin' in Freddy's house...and goes into hiding.
Freddy then confronts Tildon and says his ready to play ball, but it's too late, for Tildon was forced to shut the case down, for lack of evidence. So now, Freddy is on his own. His mission is to find 'Superboy' and take him in...all of which under the tight watch of a family of mafia cops.
This here, is your modern day western. Gritty and real. The ending is gangbusters...there are also a bunch a little plot lines that I didn't get into, but I don't give everything away.
Also, "Cop Land" was re-released on DVD as a Director's Cut, with roughly 15 minutes put back in and re-edited, a much better cut of the film than what was theatrically released. Definitely give it a look!
I heard there was a way of life out here.
Paul Fogarty | LA, United States | 05/10/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Sylvester Stallone can act. There. I said it. And as ridiculous as that statement may appear to some readers, you really do owe it to yourself to take a look at "Cop Land," and see just how good of an actor Sylvester can be! Who would believe that Stallone could appear on the same screen as Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, and Robert De Niro, and hold his own? Certainly not this viewer, and I admit that when I originally went to see the film it was BECAUSE of Keitel, Liotta, and De Niro. So you can imagine just how surprised I was that Stallone wasn't blasted off the screen by the combined talent of his heavyweight co-stars.Stallone plays "Sheriff Freddy Heflin," the law in the small, New Jersey town of Garrison, just across the George Washington Bridge. What makes Garrison special is that a large percentage of the residents are cops who work the other side of the bridge; hence the nick-name of "Cop Land." There are very few burglaries in Garrison, in fact, there is very little CRIME in Garrison period, so Freddy's days seem to be an endless round of completing paperwork for littering violations, cautioning the occasional drunk, and rescuing children's soft toys from being run over in the road. This is a shame, because Freddy wants to be a REAL cop, he wants to work the other side of the bridge, but an injury sustained when he saved a women who's car ended up in the river has left him deaf in one ear. Poor Freddy would never pass the physical, but the town showed its appreciation by allowing him to be the Sheriff... kind-of a consolation prize.But all is not well, there's something rotten in the town of Garrison, a corruption that's eating at the towns soul, and this corruption is personified in the character of "Ray Donlan," played by Keitel. When a fellow cop is involved in a questionable double homicide, Donlan initiates a cover-up that will have explosive consequences for the quiet town of Garrison, but especially for himself and Sheriff Heflin. The fall-out will also engulf the Sheriff's best friend, "Gary Figgis," played by Ray Liotta, another "real" cop, but one who's sick of the corruption and is getting out. Also involved is IAD staffer "Lt. Moe Tilden," played by De Niro, who's been tracking Donlan and his team, and is determined to bring them down.This is an excellent ensemble cast that really shines in their roles, and Stallone, as I said before, is a revelation. He piled on about 40lbs to play the part, so what we see is not the pumped-up, testosterone driven action man we have come to know and love, but a quieter, humbler, slightly "slow," kind-a bumbling character. Sad and ineffectual, he's barely tolerated by Donlan and his cronies, who's company he so desperately wants to keep. The story is tight and economical, the dialogue has the ring of authenticity to it, and there's a bitter-sweet romantic sub-plot between Freddy and one of the town's residents that works perfectly within the story. There's a scene where he's asked, by the woman he secretly loves, why he didn't marry, "All the best girls were taken," he replies, and you can practically see the big guy's heart breaking in two!Don't be put off because Stallone has top billing, this is an excellent film that works on many levels, with a clutch of superbly realistic performances driven by a well constructed story, I would recommend it highly."
A solid cop thriller in the tradition of Sidney Lumet
Cubist | United States | 06/09/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cop Land is a homage to police corruption films like Sidney Lumet's Serpico and Prince of the City. In many respects, Cop Land is also a modern western, complete with a High Noon-style showdown. Miramax previously released this film on a movie-only DVD. This new version is a huge improvement but is it worth the upgrade?Definitely."Cop Land: The Making of an Urban Western" is an excellent retrospective featurette. Stallone to be interested in the role but the actor wanted to something different, to go back to his starving actor roots. After him, came De Niro and then everyone else followed.Next, there is a "Storyboard Comparison" that allows one to watch part of the film's climatic shoot-out simultaneously with the storyboards for it.There are two deleted scenes with optional commentary.Rounding out the extras is a solid audio commentary with director James Mangold, producer Cathy Konrad and actors Sylvester Stallone and Robert Patrick. Not surprisingly, Mangold and Stallone dominate this track. Stallone comes across as a very humble and gracious guy. Mangold keeps everyone talking, acting as an informal moderator and asking everyone questions. This is a really good track and definitely worth a listen if you're a fan of this movie.Cop Land features a killer cast and allows them to flex their acting chops with a top-notch screenplay. This DVD is a definite improvement over the previous bare bones edition and is worth the upgrade. Miramax has finally done this film justice with an excellent special edition."
Fantastic urban drama backed by an all-star cast
Eddie Lancekick | Pacific Northwest | 07/18/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cop land seems to be under appreciated now after being out on the shelves a few years, and it is truly a shame. This movie has some shock value in a couple of areas, and those dynamics were crucial for its initial success in telling a compelling, character driven story that is wrought with suspense and action. The first of these things is the performance of Sylvester Stallone as Sheriff Freddy Heflin. Despite dominating screen presence as a muscle bound brute, Stallone's character in this film is a laid back, easy going type whose big heart is often overlooked by his own shy demeanor. The writer and director of this film did a superb job and what is amazing is that it was only his second venture, the first one being the film "Heavy". James Mangold assembles an outstanding cast, which includes such great actors as Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Peter Berg, Robert Patrick and Michael Rappaport among others.
Cop Land centers on a town called Garrison, New Jersey that happens to have a ton of members of the NYPD living there in order to raise their families in a better, safer neighborhood. When one of their own gets caught up in a controversial shooting that leaves a trail of blood, he and others are soon suspected of some pretty high profile crimes themselves. A trail of dead cops and closed cases arrives at the desk of Moe Tilden (DeNiro) it seems all to familiar, but as the stakes of the game starts to rise, so do the doors of opportunity to advance any investigation into the case. Freddy Heflin soon realizes that nothing is as it seems in this grandiose "cop land" of Garrison, and his only key to finding answers is just as elusive to him as it is to the guys playing the law into their own hands for their own gain.
Compelling characters and intrigue all seem to come together intricately, while still keeping all points of this film strong and fresh. As far as scripts go, this one could not have been better, and it is all topped off by an excellent portrayal of a climatic ending seen through the eyes and ears of Heflin. The special features part of this "collectors edition" is a bit disappointing, and although there are some great interviews with the cast and director, I found it lacking when it comes to extra features of a "collectors edition" DVD. Regardless, Cop Land is an excellent "Urban Western" that has all the grit and style for a NY/NJ style crime oriented film. "
Sorta like Wild Animal Park in bloody blue
Dennis Littrell | SoCal | 06/28/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Director James Mangold makes good use of Sylvester Stallone in this cop corruption saga while capturing the mentality of a small New Jersey town atmospherically named "Garrison" (Fort Lee?), a town that serves as an inbred bedroom community for the NYPD blue. I could tell by the foliage that most of this was filmed during an eastern seaboard summer: I could feel the humidity and it made me want to wring out my shirt and slap some mosquitoes.Stallone is very good as Sheriff Freddy Heflin, who was rejected for the NYPD because of a bum ear suffered saving a beloved girl's life. He's the simple sap who's not so simple, slow to anger, but once aroused, look out! (Compare to the ingredients of the Stallone Formula.) De Niro plays an Internal Affairs investigator while Harvey Keitel is his mortal enemy, a corrupt sleaze-ball cop. What I want to know is, was the choice of the name Figgis for Ray Liotta's part a director's inside joke? Incidentally, Liotta is entirely believable as a testosterone/coke-hyped cop wanting OUT.The story is reasonable as these things go, and the old style Western shoot `em up near the end tolerable. I found some of the plot devices, such as Figgis finding Freddy in the burnt out house, and one of the corrupt cops popping up in the back seat of Freddy's patrol car, a little too convenient. (But a contrivance is better than lollygagging the plot.) I also thought the rationale for the cops' violent turning on their own a little underdeveloped and especially difficult to appreciate near the beginning of the film. The ensemble of corruption and degeneracy fully revealed however made sense. The sound track is excellent and the cinematography and backdrops make New Jersey along the Hudson almost picturesque.What Mangold proves here is he can conjure up an action/adventure ditty with the best of them. He's already made an excellent art film, Heavy (1995), and a superior and original coming of ager, Girl, Interrupted (1999). I believe that the romantic comedy and the epic cannot be far behind. For a young director with his talent, the only question (aside from money, chance and the availability of the box office buffos) is does he want to be a cinematic artist or a commercial artist? I hope he can be both.Best joke: "I didn't know they allowed classical music in New Jersey.""
A modern Western fable
Trevor Willsmer | London, England | 03/17/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"James Mangold's Copland was a victim of ridiculously high expectations on its release, but seen away from the hype it's a satisfying modern Western fable with Sylvester Stallone's half?deaf, rather slow on the uptake sheriff slowly realising that his town of New York cops is a nest of murderous corruption. It all ends in a showdown that makes imaginative use of sound but left the critics expecting something more cerebral floundering. Stallone and Ray Liotta are exceptionally good in a strong cast, with only Robert De Niro turning in a phoney and predictable slice of by-the-numbers hamming ("Go-TO-lunch! Go-TO-lunch!"). The director's cut doesn't add a great deal - the racial subpliot is still relegated to the deleted scenes bin - and the new sound mix unfortunately loses one great use of sound (when Stallone plays records, in the old cut he could only hear them in mono), but unlike more and more recent directors' cuts it doesn't weaken the film either.
The extras aren't plentiful, but they are god: an engaging audio commentary, two deleted scenes, a good featurette and a storyboard comparison.