The latest installment of our Hidden Gem series looks at the Kevin Bacon thriller Cop Car (John Watts, 2015)
I got this on blu ray as a birthday present from my fellow usher Dan, bought on the basis that it of course starred Kevin Bacon, but also it’s the second film by John Watts, who is currently directing Spider-Man: Homecoming. There is a growing numbers of former Hollywood stars who are now seeing their films bypassing the cinema and ending up straight in home entertainment. Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, John Travolta even Bruce Willis are among the names. If you are browsing your local Asda or on demand service and come across Cop Car, then it is most definitely worth your time. Set at a brisk 90 minutes, this grips you early and holds on for the duration.
Two 10 year old boys are aimlessly walking in woods, one trying to get the other to say the worse swear word. They find an abandoned police car and dare each other to investigate. Seeing no one is around, they steal the car and go for a joyride. Meanwhile, a crooked local sheriff has just popped off to bury a body and returns to find his car gone. A tense cat and mouse chase ensues as the boys battle to stay one step ahead of the sheriff.
I absolutely loved this, it is a very basic premise with a minimal cast. Music is used sparingly but brilliantly as this very talented director ramps up the tension. This is expertly shot and Watt isn’t in a hurry as he builds that tension (The sheriff breaking into a car with his bootlace is wonderfully infuriating) and he doesn’t give his viewers much to go on either, choosing ambiguity over spoon feeding us every plot point. The sheriff’s motives aren’t really explained or no real back story given to any of the characters, we don’t need it. This is basic storytelling at its thrilling best.
The small cast are all on form, with Kevin Bacon’s mustachioed sheriff a joy to watch, all those EE adverts are almost forgiven as he gives his crooked cop a desperate edge. Shea Whingham from Boardwalk Empire is also great in a nominal villain role, but the film belongs to the two young leads. James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Welford are simply outstanding as the two boys. Like everything else, the script is minimal so a lot is communicated by looks and grimaces, one thing is for sure, these kids can act.
I can’t really go into too much detail without spoilers, but I really recommend this film. It wont be for everyone, the director expects a lot from his viewer, you need to fill in some blanks along the way but the build up and the taut finale it is definitely worth it if you like being on the edge of your seat for longer than your bum can handle.
A brilliant film shot by a true star in the making, I can not wait to see what he does with Spider-Man. Seek out this hidden gem, you wont regret it.
Thanks for reading. Hope you folks enjoyed yourselves, catch ya later on down the trail.