Movie Review: Carnage a la Carnahan — “CopShop”

You kind of know you’re in a Joe Carnahan movie when somebody on camera states the obvious.

“What say we cut through the bulls–t?”

It always comes too deep into the bulls–t to matter. But that’s what you came for, the profane pronouncements of the denizens of Carnahanland. He may be cut-rate-Quentin to most, but firehouse some testosterone on that cigarette lighter and see what ignites, right?

The hard-boiled dialogue (“Smokin’ Aces,” “The A-Team,” “The Grey”) is self-parody. Otherwise, no viewer would get past the instantly-jaded, already-tough-talking rookie cop weighing in with “You don’t understand how f—–g bored I am.”

Actually, I do. But thanks for piping up.

“Copshop” is a clockwork, claustrophobic cryptogram of cliches. Stagebound, confined mostly to its titular police station setting, it’s about an injured hustler (Frank Grillo) just locked up, and the larger-than-life drunk driver (Gerard Butler) who just got tossed into the clink across from him. If you can’t see the obvious, how do you think Teddy (Grillo) feels?

“I did what I had to do to get in here,” the new guy growls from across the cellblock. “To get to you, Teddy,” he says, for the slow viewers in the audience, and for Teddy, who’s still wearing his hair in a man bun five years past its expiration date.

“Copshop” sets up the Creek City PD pecking order, every cop more jaded than the next, some of them sketchier than others, each one polishing his or her patter, every syllable recycled from a hundred other copshops, a thousand other fictional coppers.

“I’m worried about you, man.” “Grown-ass men don’t worry about other grown-ass men.”

Officer Young (Alexis Louder of “Watchmen” and “The Tomorrow War”) is just trying to fit in. That’s why she lets on how “bored” she is on this overnight shift. Things are about to get a tad more exciting.

The hit-man Viddick (Butler) has a plan for getting out of his cell and into a position to complete his contract on Teddy Murretto. We see just enough of how Teddy got in here to develop an appreciation for his survival-on-his-feet skills.

The mayhem begins. The bullets fly. The blood spurts. And pithy putdowns rain down upon this beleaguered boondocks outpost where one guy is out to silence another. And in this case, the cops — the clueless, the corrupt and the rookie — are the ones caught in the crossfire.

“Copshop” is never much more than a bullet-and-joke-riddled exploitation picture, blandly, bloodily predictable in the formulae it follows, and the police protocols it ignores just to keep things confined to that station house.

Teddy shows up with a bullet wound? Let’s…treat him HERE. Etc.

Laughable moments like that litter this screenplay. But remember, we’re not dealing with realism. We’re in Carnahanland.

Butler vamps his way around this hardened killer, but we’ve seen this Butler before. Grillo is never bad in B-movies, big budget or otherwise, like this. But the character doesn’t seem like the best fit.

For me, things didn’t take a turn towards “fun” until the SECOND hitman shows up, played by “Seinfeld’s” version of “The Wiz,” Toby Huss. He comes carrying balloons, and what could be an . And he’s not mincing words with Teddy or his coiffure “fashion faux pas.”

“You look like Tom Cruise in that samurai movie nobody watched.”

I found this more irritating than I probably should have, but when a movie shows so much effort at serving up machismo, tough talk and violence and so little at generating suspense, twists and logical surprises, I lose patience with it.

This one just never seems to end, and when the illogical end arrives, a laughably dumb coda is layered on top of it.

Maybe I’ve let my visa to Carnahanland lapse, and “Copshop” reminds me of why I did.

Rating: R for strong/bloody violence, and pervasive language.

Cast: Frank Grillo, Gerard Butler, Alexis Louder and Toby Huss

Credits: Directed by Joe Carnahan, scripted by Kurt McLeod and Joe Carnahan. An Open Road release.

Running time: 1:48

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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