[Screen It]


(2021) (Alexis Louder, Gerard Butler) (R)

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Action: A bored cop must contend with several hitmen and their target ending up in her police station.

Valerie Young (ALEXIS LOUDER) is a police officer in Gun Creek who's bored with the mundane aspects of her work life in the small town. That changes when a man with a bullet wound in his side, Teddy Murretto (FRANK GRILLO), punches her in the face in order to be arrested. Valerie tries to figure out why he'd do such a thing, but he's not willing to explain anything. His tone changes, however, when a seemingly intoxicated man, Bob Viddick (GERARD BUTLER), is brought in and put in the jail cell opposite of Teddy.

It turns out Teddy has stolen money from the wrong people who've sent hitman Bob to deal with the situation. Things become more complicated when one of Valerie's coworkers, Officer Huber (RYAN O'NAN), turns out to be bad and then when another hitman, Anthony Lamb (TOBY HUSS), shows up also with a bounty on Teddy's head. Finding herself the last cop standing, Valerie does what she must to protect herself all while dealing with the various bad men.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10

Greek slave and storyteller Aesop apparently knew a thing or two about life and decided to impart such wisdom in a number of fables that eventually became attached to his name. Among them was the tale of an old man so tired of gathering branches that he wished death would come and take him. Lo and behold, the Grim Reaper showed up and thus the man learned the lesson of "be careful what you wish for."

Granted, the wish itself doesn't have magical powers to have such effects, but the point is well-taken. People who've wished for twins often realize that having two toddlers is more difficult than they imagined, while many a lottery winner ends up wishing they hadn't done that initial wishing for sudden fortune.

That fable lesson shows up in "Copshop," an action-filled siege flick where our protagonist, Valerie Young (a terrific Alexis Louder), is a cop in the small but appropriately named town of Gun Creek. She's so bored that she's gone out and bought herself an old-fashioned six shooter and imagines herself a gunslinger sheriff type, including spinning the gun around her finger before holstering it and doing an ammunition-free quick draw contest with a fellow cop.

Her desire for some excitement shows up when she goes to break up some sort of melee and ends up punched in the face by Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo). She immediately tases and arrests him, and then sets out to determine what would cause him to take such a felonious action.

It turns out he's seeking the sort of protection only a jail cell can provide, what with concrete walls, bars, locks, and lots of armed officers close by. But what he hasn't planned for is the hitman who's after him, Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler), has a similar "go directly to jail" plan and he's soon in the cell across from Teddy.

Valerie eventually learns that the latter is a hitman sent to kill the former for stealing from the wrong sorts of people who don't take kindly to such "I wish I had more money" wishes. Things then heat up even more when a fellow cop (Ryan O'Nan) gets so desperate that he ends up wishing he hadn't gotten involved with unsavory types, and then with the arrival of another hitman (Toby Huss) whose aw shucks demeanor can only mask his psychotic and deadly nature for so long.

Once the bullets start flying, Valerie quickly finds herself to be the last good cop standing and tries to save herself, stop the bad guys, and determine whether she can trust any of them. While Butler and Grillo are billed as the headliners, it's Louder who delivers a star in the making performance as the female cop more than capable of going toe to toe with all the tough guys and their testosterone oozing and spurting about all around her.

Yes, some of the action and story beats are (purposefully) over the top and will result in plenty of eye rolling and some furrowed brows. But director Joe Carnahan -- working from a script he co-wrote with Kurt McLeod -- is so in tune with the old school, pulpy film vibe and aesthetics that the flick ends up being a figurative and literal blast to watch.

Butler does his usual charismatic swagger bit, while Grillo makes for a believable and opportunistic scoundrel and Huss ends up being the scene stealer with his over-the-top portrayal of the sort of psychotic killer you hope only exists in movies.

But it's Louder who will be remembered here as she commands every scene she's in. If her wish is to be an action star, let's hope she doesn't end up typecast as only that, because I envision a more encompassing stardom in her future. Fueled by her performance and an often-smart script, "Copshop" clearly lands and exists in the guilty pleasure category and thus rates as a 6 out of 10.

Reviewed September 13, 2021 / Posted September 17, 2021

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