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Cop Car (8/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 88 minutes.

OK for children.

One of the nice things of being a film critic is to go to a film with extremely low expectations and to be hit over the head with a good, interesting, well-made film. Thatís what happened to me when I went to a screening of this. There were six other critics in attendance.

But I was in from the first scene when two ten-year old boys, Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford), find what appears to be an abandoned police car with the keys in it and take it for a joy ride.

Well, it wasnít abandoned. It was the car of Sheriff Kretzer (Kevin Bacon, who is the Executive Producer of the film) and heís off in the country doing some nefarious business. As might be expected, the boys get a lot more trouble than they anticipated and Sheriff Kretzer finds his world rapidly falling apart.

This is a tense, believable thriller. Lots of films (probably most) have plot holes or things that strain credulity. Iím always looking for them, and generally find them. This one has very few, if any.

Extremely well directed by Jon Watts, from a script by Christopher Ford and Watts, there are lots of homages in the film. Itís set in Quinlan County, a fictional county in Colorado named after Hank Quinlan, the police chief played by Orson Welles in the 1958 noir, Touch of Evil. The license plate of Sheriff Kretzerís car is 149PCE, referring to Steven Spielbergís first (and maybe best) film, Duel (1971). Sheriff Kretzer is named after the corrupt Sheriff in Billy Wilderís 1951 noir, Ace in the Hole.

Another nice thing about the film is that the two children think and act like real children, unlike most children in films who generally think and act like adults.

I liked the film when it started; I liked it as it progressed; and I really liked the ending.