Two children who have run away from home happen across an abandoned Cop Car, and when they decide to take it for a spin they unwittingly get caught up in a very dangerous game of cat and mouse.
Cop Car is a film that aspires to be a kind of meld between a kind of Speilbergian childhood adventure tale, and a Coen brothers black comedy thriller. Two extremely lofty ambitions. Two lofty ambitions that I think it achieves incidentally. It manages to both be a tale of two children going on an adventure in the wild and also be a darkly funny thriller, where most films don’t manage one of those things. But I think that the real secret to the success of Cop Car is its pacing. It appears to be taking everything so gently but all the while it is accelerating slowly. And by the time that you’ve noticed it’s in the middle of an almost unbearably tense standoff.
There are films that you enjoyed so much they just flew by, but there are also films that somehow manage to make you feel like you’ve been in their company for longer than you have but in a good way. You feel like you know the characters more than you would normally at this length of a movie. And this, I think, is down to the way that character development is introduced so subtly. It pushes it development into places that usually you wouldn’t see it at all. My favourite example of this is a scene very early on when the two boys navigate around a wire fence. Now during this short little maybe ten seconds of film you learn about the characters what you would have learnt from maybe ten minutes of dialogue. And because of little scenes like this you feel like because you know the characters so well you’ve been watching for longer than you have, but not in the way that say Transformers feels longer than it is, it is an entirely pleasant feeling. And something that doesn’t occur all too often.
Praise must go to the casting team because child actors are notoriously difficult to get right, but they got it spot on here. Both Hays Wellford and James Freedson-Jackson – who can be no older than 12 – are simply delightful to watch. The scriptwriter knows exactly how children of this age talk, and it is delivered by both of them perfectly. Kevin Bacon here, while in a supporting role, is also fairly spectacular. He fits brilliantly into the shoes of the possibly corrupt possibly unfortunate local Sheriff. His performance will leave you guessing right up to the end.
Overall, I an incredibly glad I decided to seek this film out because it is a proper gem. I really loved it, and I think you will too.