Director Jon Watt’s Cop Car opens on two boys (Hays Wellford and James Freedson-Jackson) walking through a field carrying walking sticks as big as their bodies. They alternate reciting swear words; one gleefully energetic and the other dourly reluctant. Both are confident in their juvenile assumptions.
The pair come across a police squad car parked in the woods with no one attending to it. They cautiously approach it as if it is some wild beast, throwing rocks at it and fearfully running up to touch it. Then, they realize that it is unlocked.
Enter Sheriff Kretzer (Kevin Bacon), the officer who drove out to the middle of the woods and left the car for a nefarious purpose. Already engaging in activity that would be frowned upon by other law enforcement, Kretzer can’t just call in his missing vehicle to dispatch. Instead, he must go on a wild goose chase to find the two boys who decided to take his car on a joyride.
There is a strange mix of moods in Cop Car. The children are, well, appropriately childish. But their childish tendencies bleed into the very tense reality that they have stumbled into. The two boys do not fully understand the severity of their position, and that makes for some darkly comical and legitimately terrifying moments.
Kevin Bacon is downright scary in this movie. He moves erratic and fidgety, and you can see on his face his constant contemplation over the ramifications of not handling his predicament perfectly. Conversely, when he speaks there is an eerie poise and calm to his voice.
Shea Whigham’s appearance is equally terrifying. He gives a monologue to the two children that is disturbing, delivered with a haunting, grisly whisper that makes the whole moment unforgettable.
Good child actors are hard to come by. Considering the amount of screen time they have, the two young leads of Cop Car hold their own extremely well. They play the naivety of their characters naturally, but also make a smooth transition when they realize what they have gotten themselves into.
The film’s final third is the epitome of suspense. Elements stack on top of each other one-by-one until everything slowly falls into place for a lengthy standoff. Some scenes in the first half of the film drag on beyond their necessity, but said final standoff is well worth the wait.
Cop Car delivers an exceedingly suspenseful thriller that doesn’t disappoint, giving veterans Bacon and Whigham, as well as young actors Wellford and Freedson-Jackson, a platform from which to broadcast their talents.
Cop Car is currently available to watch on Amazon Instant Video here.
As always, thanks for reading!
Have you seen Cop Car? If so, what did you think? Let me know in the comments!
–Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)