Films like Stand by Me and The Sandlot take audiences back to their adolescent days and the mistakes and adventures of that filled childhood. The writers of these kinds of films are great at reconnecting with the honest moments of those days. Writer and director, Jon Watts grounds the writing with the two kids in this film, in the same way. He treats them with honesty as it harkens back to the frontier of adolescence and the twists and turns that came with it. To take things to the next level he throws in a stolen cop car and a criminal driven plot.
Watts, who directed an Eli Roth produced film titled Clown, is not a stranger to the world of suspense. He has a natural way of raising the stakes subtly from scene to scene. It’s similar to being in a room that is slowly being filled with water, before you know it, you are completely submerged and in a panic.
In Cop Car, two runaway kids stumble upon an cop car in the middle of a field. When they discover that the car is seemingly abandoned they decide to take the car for a joyride. At the same time the kids are driving off in the car, Sheriff Kretzer (Kevin Bacon) is disposing of some lascivious evidence in a nearby field. When he heads back to his car to discover it isn’t there anymore, he is sent into a whirlwind of anger and paranoia that sparks his search for his missing property, before any other law enforcement finds out it was stolen and before the two kids decide to look in the trunk.
Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison, (Hays Wellford) the two leads in the film, are an unstoppable duo on screen. Their chemistry and realistic approach to their angst filled adolescent roles are what grounds the film and makes the audience pray that the boys make it out of this bad situation with their lives.
Kevin Bacon, is an actor that can dance between evil and charming with the flick of an eyebrow, (or in this case his mustache) in Cop Car, he walks the line between dark humor and an evil side. He will literally do whatever it takes to come out clean. Bacon owns this film and reminds everyone that he has every possible layer that there is when it comes to his craft. He has a haunting presence that is reminiscent of the wolf that wants to eat little red riding hood. This is one of the best roles that I have seen him in and it is one that keeps you thinking even after the credits roll.
Cop Car is a nail-biting and suspenseful accomplishment. It reaches every emotional peak that it aims for. It lands somewhere between the gritty themes of “No Country for Old Men” and the honest portrait of youth from Stand By Me. While it stands between two films that we are familiar with, it also blazes its own trail with some gorgeous cinematography along with an unsettling score.