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Review: ‘Copshop’ shoots first, asks questions later

“Copshop” is a new release that is a throwback to exploitation films. The movie is about a con artist who intentionally gets himself arrested for protection, the assassins that hunt him to the small-town police station where he is locked up and a virtuous cop that comes between them.

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"Copshop" stars Gerard Butler, Frank Grillo and Alexis Louder as a dogged bounty hunter, an amoral con man and a rookie cop, respectively, whose allegiances and ideals are tested behind a shoot'em-up showdown behind bars. The new release is playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter. Frank Lee / Brainerd Dispatch

BAXTER — A con artist on the run, a pair of contract killers and a rookie cop holed up in a small-town police station — what could go wrong?

It turns out plenty in the new movie “Copshop,” an action-thriller set in a desolate Nevada area where the difference between good and bad is blurred in a plot full of twists and turns.

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Frank Grillo stars as Teddy Murretto, a wanted man running for his life because of a target on his back. Exactly who he is fleeing from and why is unclear at the start of the two-hour film.

Murretto gets the inspired idea to sucker punch a rookie cop to get himself arrested for his own protection, locked up behind bars from shady characters intent on ending Murretto’s life.

What Murretto doesn’t count on is hired hitman Bob Viddick, played by Gerard Butler, who also intentionally gets himself arrested to get closer to Murretto.

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Viddick isn’t the only one interested in the mysterious Murretto. Anthony Lamb, another contract killer played by Toby Huss, shows up at the police station to lay claim to Murretto’s life.

What stands between the two trigger-happy hitmen and their intended victim is a rookie cop played by relative newcomer Alexis Louder, whose resourcefulness proves to be formidable.

The unsuspecting police officer Valerie Young played by Louder is one of those rare female action heroes that follow in the cinematic footsteps of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in “Aliens.”

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“Copshop” director Joe Carnahan is no stranger to making action-filled films, having directed “Smokin’ Aces” in 2006 and “The A-Team,” a 2010 feature adaption of the 1980s TV series.

“Copshop” could be a spiritual cousin to exploitation films or grindhouse movies of decades past with its violent subject matter and no-holds-barred attitudes of the primary characters.

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When it becomes clear to Young, Murretto, Viddick and Lamb that no one will get out of the situation without blood on their hands and their chances of survival are slim, they conspire to gain the upper hand, but the question for all the characters is, who can you really trust?

Audiences may remember Butler from his 2007 starring role in “300,” an ultra-violent Spartan epic about the Battle of Thermopylae in the Persian Wars in which he played King Leonidas.

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And if Grillo’s face seems familiar even if his name may not be, that would not be a surprise. He had a supporting role in the Captain America movies from Marvel.

The R-rated “Copshop” is playing at the Lakes 12 Theatre in Baxter and generally received favorable reviews upon its release in theaters earlier this month.

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“Copshop” currently holds an 80% approval rating among critics and a 75% approval rating among audiences at Rotten Tomatoes, a review-aggregation website for film and television.

The RottenTomatoes.com critics consensus reads: “It doesn't add many new ingredients to the genre, but action fans in the mood for an old-school thriller will be happy to buy what ‘Copshop’ is selling.”

FRANK LEE may be reached at 218-855-5863 or at frank.lee@brainerddispatch.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/bdfilmforum .

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I cover arts and entertainment, and write feature stories, for the Brainerd Dispatch newspaper. As a professional journalist with years of experience, I have won awards for my fact-based reporting. And my articles have also appeared in other publications, including USA Today. 📰
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