Director: Jon Watts
Cast: Kevin Bacon, Shea Wigham, Camryn Manheim, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Welford
90min US Drama
The big sky country of Colorado provides some magnificent widescreen potential for this rather twisty tale that starts as a gentle indie drama but soon enters thriller territory when two kids on a rural ramble innocently playing cops and robbers end up in serious trouble.
Jon Watts cruises ahead confidently with a plausible if outlandish plotline for this coming of age road movie that keeps us guessing for most of its journey. But the joy ride soon unspools into an adult gunslinger between two unlikeable characters – Kevin Bacon’s dodgy redneck sherriff and the bad guy he was trying to turn in – with the kids playing the victims in a cop chase whose origins remain a mystery from start to finish.
The two 10-year-olds – newcomers in question, Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford), discover an empty cop car during their make meander across the open fields – Travis is the sparky daring one and Harrison the more reserved of the two. Daring each other to touch the car, they end up inside and then driving off in a moment of exhilarating danger – sirens blaring and lights flashing – and unknown to them – a perp in the boot.
The car belongs to sherrif Mitch Kretzer (Kevin Bacon) who we then see, in flashback, dragging a body from the boot and then dumping it in an empty pit. When Kretzer returns, the boys have already left and are eventually seen snaking along the highway by a woman travelling in the opposite direction (Camryn Manheim).
Watts and his co-writer stick in the realms of superficial ‘boys own’ territory without scoping out the kids backstories or that of the sherriff and his victims, who all turn in superb performances. COP CAR imagines proceedings from a kids’ point of view: fearless and out to have fun – and to hell with the consequences. There is a sinister undercurrent as the boys – quite literally – take a back seat, but this lack of more ample characterisation throws the emphasis onto Bacon’s fairly routine sherriff and his bloodied baddie who we neither know about, and care about even less. A missed opportunity but a ripping yarn nevertheless. MT
SCREENING DURING EDINBURGH FILM FESTIVAL 17 -28 JUNE 2015