Cop Land is a film that could have easily been a long mini-series with all its got going on in the plot.
Garrison, New Jersey in this movie is a town populated entirely by NY city cops. It’s a nice quiet little community, as you would expect, and mortgages are quite reasonable; plus it sure as hell beats living in the same dump they all have to work in.
This is so thanks to “Uncle Ray” the boss of the town— a mobbed up cop played by Harvey Keitel. In a town populated by cops, the actual police force is there more or less for show.
It’s a do nothing job bestowed upon one of those guys everyone likes but no one takes seriously—enter Sylvester Stallone as Sheriff Freddy Heflin. Along with him there is also a feisty deputy named Cindy Betts (Janeane Garofolo).
The big event that sets things in motion here is the murder of two black youths by a rookie cop played by Michael Rapaport. His career ruined the young officer then fakes a suicide with help from Uncle Ray and hides out in Garrison until those ‘do nothing’ cops above begin getting suspicious and start actually doing their jobs, much to everyone’s dismay.
Robert De Niro plays Moe Tilden, a big wig in Internal Affairs launching an investigation into this case who reaches out to Freddy. Ray Liotta plays a cop named Figgis who has a longstanding dislike for Stallone’s character which will serve as a major part of the fracas.
Speaking of which there’s also a subplot where Stallone’s character has recurring flashbacks to when he was a teenager and had to dive into the river (an act that cost him most of his hearing) to save his old sweetheart Liz, who is now married to another cop named Joey.
Joey even has a subplot, as the gal he’s cheating on Liz with won’t stop dumping garbage in his yard, which until all the aforementioned events, is about the biggest crime to be dealt with for officer Freddy in Garrison.
With all that going on, needless to say the film is more than a little busy, but like Stallone it has a nice subdued charm to it. I think of this movie as being like Scorsese on Quaaludes.
And of course since it is all set in Jersey the soundtrack is mostly comprised of Bruce Springsteen tunes, but I ain’t complaining. I like the Boss, and I liked this movie too.
Cop Land gets a four out of five: GREAT.