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COPLAND

SYNOPSIS:
Garrison, New Jersey is a good place to live. With little crime and lots of families, the town is populated with cops who work across the river in New York City. Freddy Heflin (Sylvester Stallone) has been the sheriff of Garrison for the past ten years, and he's always admired the men in blue, although he could never become one. After saving the life of Liz Randone (Annabella Sciorra) many years ago when her car plunged into a river, Freddy went deaf in one ear and never could qualify for the force. The many cops who know him, including senior cop Ray Donlan (Harvey Keitel), are friendly, but see him as a lower class officer. Nonetheless, everything seems hunky dory until a young officer, Murray Babitch (Michael Rapaport), jumps off the bridge into the Hudson River after shooting two motorists who menaced him. Everyone thinks Murray is dead, while Donlan, his uncle, has him hidden away. Internal affairs agent Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro), who's been investigating Donlan and others, knows something's up. So he goes to Freddy looking for answers and asks him to watch Donlan. Of course he could just ask Gary Figgis (Ray Liotta), an officer who still blames Donlan for the death of his partner who was set to expose the corruption in the department. As Freddy starts to question his friendship with the allegedly crooked cops, Donlan knows he must come up with a body from the river or their whole corrupt world might unravel. Together with fellow cops Jack Rucker (Robert Patrick) and Joey Randone (Peter Berg), Liz's husband, he sets out to kill Murray, who comes to Freddy for help. The sheriff must figure out the right course to take in his ever increasingly dangerous world.

"James Mangold’s well constructed and compelling script gives plenty of opportunity for this star powered cast to shine, in a fascinating town where corruption reigns. Sylvester Stallone gives a startlingly complete performance as Freddy, the paunchy, lost soul who lives his life in submission and complacency. His character development is totally credible, heartbreaking at times, and this performance will no doubt open new doors for this Hollywood star. Stallone gives subtlety and appeal to Freddy, who as the underdog, is used to putting up and shutting up. Solid as usual, Harvey Keitel gives great depth to the character of the cop who constructed this Mafia-built town, and keeps all the cops dishonest. All the players are excellent, with the cameos carefully cast, but Ray Liotta is especially worthy of mention. Less physically ‘pretty’ in this role, Liotta gives a gutsy and complex performance as the crooked cop with a conscience. The interaction between the characters, played by actors of such a high calibre is a joy to watch, although the final showdown is perhaps a little contrived and lacks the emotional charge it deserves. Backed by Howard Shore’s strong, emotive music score, there is lots of action and interesting characters to absorb in this town of dirty garbage, where all lives are tainted. Copland is a well made film with excellent entertainment value that dishes up the goods with panache and style."
Louise Keller

"Much has been written about this film as Stallone's chance to prove himself as the actor he once was, and the surprise is, that as the initially slow, deaf, overweight cop in Copland, Sly's chance for his own redemption matches that of his latest screen character. Stallone's performance is remarkable, polished, meticulous, resonant and full of emotive range and clarity. Within the company of actors whose work we expect to be nothing short of top-notch, even predictable, Stallone shines with the best of them. But Copland is not a Stallone film by any means. James Mangold's literate, intelligent drama about police corruption across the river from New York, is a film that is involving, intricate and compelling. Mangold directs his perceptive screenplay with meticulous precision, creating atmosphere and mood akin to a contemporary Western. Indeed, there's much of the Western inherent here. Aside from Stallone, other standout performances emerge from Ray Liotta who, like Stallone, comes from a series of silly B-grade films beneath his talents as an actor, and in this, delivers one of his finest performances in years. Annabella Sciorra is also excellent as the young woman whom Stallone rescued years ago and whose own life is a major mess in this town run by the mob and crooked cops. This above-average thriller helps to redefine a stale genre and elevate an equally stale actor to a new and satisfying class."
Paul Fischer

"As Paul (above) points out, there are echoes of a Western here; but so many American filmmakers love the territory of good v bad as told through a story of a single man finding the courage within himself to do something about it. I suspect the first thing every filmmaker learns in the US is that (literally) good old saying: "For evil to succeed in the world, it takes good men to do nothing." (If it were coined today, it would use ‘persons’ instead of ‘men’ . . . ) And as Louise (also above) says, the performances make this film work, despite the familiar storyline of corrupt cops and mobsters in collusion. The freshness is also attributable to the setting, which is different enough to be interesting, and the technical work is terrific. But for me the most effective element in the script is the emotional background that sets up Freddy’s present situation. We are all what we WERE, and that can mean more than one thing. Freddy is a man whose lost love and lost career fuse in front of his eyes. That’s pretty confronting."
Andrew L. Urban

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 3
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

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See Paul Fischer's interview with
RAY LIOTTA


COPLAND (M)
(US)

 

CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Peter Berg, Janeane Garofalo, Robert Patrick Michael Rapaport, Annabella Sciorra, Noah Emmerich, Cathy Moriarty, John Spencer, Frank Vincent, Arthur J. Nascarella

DIRECTOR: James Mangold

PRODUCER: Cary Wods, Cathy Konrad, Ezra Swerdlow

SCRIPT: James Mangold

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Eric Edwards

EDITOR: Craig McKay

MUSIC: Howard Shore

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Lester Cohen

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes

 

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 29, 1997







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