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Why Cop Land Was Meant To Be A Great Film

The underrated neo noir of the 90s

By Samantha ParrishPublished about a year ago 4 min read
Photo from Mike's Take On The Movies

In a recent interview for the promotion of Tulsa King. Sylvester Stallone was asked, "Which of your movies would like more recognition for?"

He said Get Carter was one of them because of the opportunity to play a gangster, But the first mentioned was Cop Land.

In 1997 James Manigold was one of the new directors, he gave a bright new vision for the crime genre that wasn’t littered with excess violence or regurgitated stories. People had already had their fill of various crime movies that were either getting too violent or becoming too stale. He breathes fresh new air into many other genres that were dying by the end of the 90s.

But Copland is the one movie that doesn’t feel like any other procedural thriller movie. It has some of those usual storylines that have more layers to them

It's easy to make a film about corruption, it's hard to give layers to that storyline of corruption. It could have been written off as another cop movie but this one took the concepts of corruption with many layers

1. Abuse of Power

2. Coverups

3. Lack of morality to justify actions

Ray Liotta's character said the best line in any movie centered around corruption.

"Bein' right is not a bulletproof vest Freddy!"

The truth is the best weapon to set people free or expose corruption. But the truth isn't guaranteed to bring safety. That line has so much power to show that the truth won't keep you safe or save the day.

It's time to put a spotlight on Ray Liotta's character Gary "Figgsy" Figgis.

The late Ray Liotta brings a powerhouse performance that went unnoticed in his career. The characters of the noir genre have a balance of traits between your best friend and your worst enemy. He has his motives just like everyone else in this film. The way he plays this character is the epitome of the noir genre. He goes back and forth between being cunning, caring, manipulative, and emotionally aware. You know he's a great friend of Freddy's who always has his back, but what is Figgsy planning? No one in this plot is entirely trustworthy which is the core of a film noir. Everyone else plays their part in how hidden their motive is, but Figgsy's characterization and motivations are truly what makes this movie a film noir.

In action thrillers that cover corruption, the action doesn't let the plot breathe into navigating corruption and how it affects everyone involved.

Stallone’s career hit a slump at the end of the 90s after exhausting audiences with his usual action banter, this role as sheriff Freddy Heflin is a different role that was still on par with many of his other characters that are involved with law enforcement, but he was in a military man, he’s just an average man. a man that just wants to protect his town despite being in the twilight zone of what’s going on with the people that he works with

He's intelligent because he keeps his mind open to the possibilities of what he doesn't know. The corruption within the jurisdictions runs deep into places he never would have thought.

The film era of the 90s is chock full of action heroes, you could throw a dart at a wall with movie titles and hit a name of an action hero that defined the 90s. but what about a hero that isn't known for the action? But this is one of those law enforcement movies where the action doesn't drive the plot, it's the mystery.

This is one of those rare films that will never be the same when you go back and rewatch it. All the pieces of this story feel like shreds of evidence to a case. It's more than just plot points to drive the film. Once the movie is over, you know everything. But when you rewatch a movie that makes you have to go back to the beginning of the movie knowing that the plot twist came from the beginning and the core of the movie.

If you want to hear more thoughts about this film, feel free to check out my episode of Cop Land on my show, The Screen Queen

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About the Creator

Samantha Parrish

What's something interesting you always wanted to know?

Instagram: parrishpassages

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My book Inglorious Ink is now available on Amazon!

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