Jail Time

Stars: Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo, Alexia Louder, Toby Huss, Ran O’Nan and Kaiwi Lyman-Mersereau
Director: Joe Carnahan
Scriptwriters: Kurt McLeod and Joe Carnahan
Composer: Clinton Shorter
Cinematography: Juan Miguel Azpiroz
Zero Gravity management/Open Road Films
Rating: R for violence
Running length: 108 Minutes 

Gerard Butler is known for action films, gaining fame with “The 300,” then the “Olympus Has Fallen” and “Angel Has Fallen” films. However, “Copshop” heads in another direction.  This time, Butler plays an assassin who is out to complete his contract no matter what---and that means competing with another assassin after the same man. This may sound familiar, and usually done without humor, but violence.  In “Copshop,” there are both, and the dry wit that comes through with the characters may catch you unaware and you laugh without meaning to. “Copshop” introduces us to a police officer who is black, female and dedicated to her job. Alexia Louder, we will be watching for you in future films. Director Joe Carnahan, who also did the memorable “Narc” with Jason Patric, knows how to control lighting in small spaces and lets the actors do what they do best---entertain the audience. 

The plot has Teddy (Frank Grillo) on the run from an assassin, Bob Viddick (Butler). Teddy comes up with an idea, what is the safest place to be when hunted?  A police jail, so he manages to get himself arrested in a small town in Nevada, where the young police officer, Valerie (Louder) is as tough as a drill sergeant. Not to be outdone, Viddick gets himself arrested and ends up in the nearest cell to Teddy. If that isn’t bad enough, another assassin, Lambe (Toby Huss who steals his scenes) also is arrested and placed in an adjoining cell.  We find out that Viddick is actually a Fixer, who cleans up when others make errors. What to do? Teddy is like the ham in a sandwich that is going stale fast…and still no one believes he is in danger. There are outside forces at work, too. 

Gerard Butler and Frank Grillo and Toby Huss take their roles and run with them.  Two assassins and one almost-innocent victim  and the one-liners are flying. Add newcomer, Alexia Louder, who holds her own with a commanding presence.  You have your choice between the “neat” assassin (Viddick) and the whacko assassin (Lambe). Some choice. The action sequences are well done. This small town in Nevada has quite an arsenal of weapons---out in the open. Butler (as Viddick) is humming in the film, and Gerard Butler actually did his own singing  in “Phantom of the Opera” of several years back. 

“Copshop” is something like an SNL script with a bite. A victim, two guys, with different personalities,  out to get that person and the cops don't believe he is in danger in jail with the other guys. This is dry humor and you don’t want to chuckle, but can’t help it. I’m wondering if this film will have a sequel? The character of Bob Viddick is ripe for continuation. 

Copyright 2021 Marie Asner