When hotheaded rookie cop Murray Babitch (Michael Rapaport) – known by his friends as Superboy- gets involved in an ugly racially-motivated incident, his uncle Ray Donlan (Harvey Keitel), a corrupt New York cop attempts to cover it up by faking his nephew’s death. The botched cover-up leads to an investigation by idealistic Internal Affairs agent, Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro) and Freddy Heflin (Sylvester Stallone), sheriff of New Jersey suburban town where Ray and his crooked policemen live.
Long before James Mangold ever directed 3:10 To Yuma and The Wolverine, he directed Cop Land, a gritty and highly underrated police drama starring a knockout cast of: Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta. What I love most about this movie is the script, the story is so well structured and multi-layered that it had me interested throughout. The film is very definition of a slow-burning drama, the script takes it’s time but it develops everything so very well and in the end I found myself watching an absorbing cop drama with even more absorbing characters. Back in ’97 when this movie came out Sylvester Stallone was widely praised for his performance in the film and mainly because Stallone got off his macho high-horse and took a serious role for once and yes, he is great, probably at his best since Rocky, but so is everyone else. Harvey Keitel, Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta are nothing short of amazing either, in fact I found Keitel the most impressive.
The film, and quite a lot of it felt heavily inspired by Scorsese. The characters are characters you would see in Martin Scorsese movies, the plotting, story-telling draw a kind of an eerie resemblance to his films too but ultimately the film does stand on its own two feet and delivers a story worth telling, one that kept me wanting more. All in all, Cop Land is a solid police drama, it’s got a great story, compelling, well written characters and an all-star cast that definitely delivers. Cop Land is heavily recommended.