A small town police station becomes the unlikely battleground between a professional hitman (Gerard Butler), a smart female rookie cop (Alexis Louder) and a double-crossing conman (Frank Grillo) who seeks refuge behind bars with no place left to run.
There's something about the title 'Copshop' that just immediately conjures images of smoke-filled rooms, mustaches and aviator sunglasses, shoulder holsters and pistols.
In fact, the title seems so obvious, you almost wonder why a movie hasn't been made with this title before. The opening titles, likewise, are just as you'd expect. It even uses Lalo Schifrin's theme music from 1973's cop thriller classic with Clint Eastwood, 'Magnum Force', as a Ford Bronco drives across a desert landscape to said copshop that protects the people of Gun Creek.
If all of this seems like it's living in a heightened reality, it only increases when Frank Grillo's topknot arrives on the scene and beats up hotshot rookie cop Alexis Louder with the intention of being arrested and hidden inside of a police station. That, naturally, won't stop committed hitman Gerard Butler from getting at him and concocts a scheme to get into the adjacent cell to Frank Grillo. The situation, however, spirals out of control when fellow hitman and outrageous psychopath Toby Huss arrives on the scene with an Uzi and a desire to kill anyone who gets in his way, with the cops of said cop shop caught in the middle.
Joe Carnahan has made a career out of making lightly budgeted action movies and making them look as slick as possible, and with heavy dialogue scenes breaking them up. 'Stretch', from 2014, is now arguably a cult movie and saw Carnahan whip together a wild, one-night action movie with Patrick Wilson as a hapless limo driver and Chris Pine as a demented billionaire pulling his strings. 'Copshop' has a similar vibe. It's set in one night, it's character-driven and those characters are often far beyond the realms of normal, and when the action comes, it's sharp, loud, and over as quickly as it began.
In between these bursts of action lies some of the issues with 'Copshop'. The pacing is never quite as smooth as you'd hope it to be, and while the dialogue-heavy scenes are fun and you can see the cast is clearly relishing them, 'Copshop' can't quite hit a rhythm that works for it. Still, there's a lot to like about it. Gerard Butler is clearly having a blast in every scene, and while he can play a heavy in his sleep, here he is clearly trying to elevate it to something different. Frank Grillo, on the other hand, feels curiously miscast as the slimeball conman, and while Toby Huss' motormouth antics are equally welcome to proceedings, the real standout is Alexis Louder, who is pitched between these two as the incorruptible blue line.
As enjoyably chaotic as it is, 'Copshop' does suffer from a certain amount of predictability in places. Nevertheless, watching everyone have so much fun on screen, not to mention the director and screenwriters, more than makes up for these faults.