Review: Gerard Butler star of Frank Grillo in new action movie stuck in lock-up

Gerard Butler stars in Joe Carnahan’s “Copshop,” which hits theaters Friday, September 17th. Photo: Kyle Kaplan / Films on the Open Road

“Copshop,” about a con man imprisoned in prison with his potential assassin, has the makings of an entertaining B-picture game, but meticulous pacing, gigantic storylines, and paltry character development keep this movie going. action blocked.

Almost the entire movie takes place in the small market town of Gun Creek, Nevada, where a group of incompetent police officers work in a huge, ultra-sleek police station that seems incongruous with this Western-flavored criminal story.

Turns out, things are about to get bloody in Gun Creek. Mega crook Teddy (Frank Grillo) is on the run from hitman Bob (Gerard Butler), and to escape Bob’s clutches, Teddy is deliberately arrested, accosting rookie officer Valerie (Alexis Louder) and landing in full security in prison. That is, until a new person arrested – Bob, of course – arrives in the cell next door, and Teddy needs a bailout ASAP.

Gerard Butler plays an imprisoned hitman caught in a siege in “Copshop”. Photo: Kyle Kaplan / Films on the Open Road

That premise offers minimal promise as luscious guilty pleasure, but Sacramento director Joe Carnahan struggles to put his film into a groove. The setup scenes aren’t executed well, conveying too little information and relying on subsequent flashbacks to tell us how this conflagration started. Then, while the film is expected to move faster, Carnahan seals the main characters with boring, overwhelming speeches that slow the film down in slow motion.

The character confrontations that should be tense are sort of listless, and the action sequences that should crackle are often ho-hum. There are too many moments that don’t move the story forward, especially when the agents are sitting and chatting. (This film would have benefited from a 25-minute edit in the editing room.)

Alexis Louder plays the role of Valerie in Joe Carnahan’s “Copshop”. Photo: Kyle Kaplan / Films on the Open Road

Beyond pacing issues, “Copshop” can’t decide if it wants to be an introspective action shot or just comic book chaos. He tries to be both, but he manages to be neither. As the death toll rises, we don’t care about any of those people, with the possible exception of Valerie, who is caught in the midst of Teddy and Bob’s feud.

The acting isn’t that great here – not stellar either – but the performers have so many actor-proof lines and do so much nonsense that it’s hard to take them or take this movie even at half seriously. We’re supposed to have a fun ride here, with a bit of existentialism to boot, but “Copshop” can’t escape its stopped development.

K“Copshop”: Action. With Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo and Alexis Louder. Directed by Joe Carnahan. (A. 108 minutes). In theaters across the Bay Area starting Friday, September 17.

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