Let me start by stating I’m a big fan of this James Mangold crime drama. I’m a firm believer that it’s arguably the best work ever caught on film from Sylvester Stallone. Think about it, let’s take away Rambo and Rocky for a minute and pretend they never existed. What’s left? A large body of work that some might argue contains more than one misstep but not here. I mean if it wasn’t for the fact that the credits clearly state this is a James Mangold film, you might get away with tricking a newbie into believing it’s a Martin Scorsese film.
Scorsese? Most assuredly.
Along with a crime drama background here are the reasons why….
Harvey Keitel. “I always liked you, Murray. You just sweat too much!”
Ray Liotta. “In for a penny, in for a pound. Don’t shut me out, Ray.”
Robert De Niro.“Listen, you deaf fuck. I offered you a chance when we could have done something, I offered you a chance to be a cop, and you blew it! You blew it.”
Raging Bull’s Cathy Moriarty.
Heck, it’s even got Billy Bats himself, Frank Vincent.
Now, where the hell is Joe Pesci???
For those who haven’t seen the film, Stallone is a low key Sheriff in name only paid for by Harvey Keitel in what’s known as Cop Land. A small town outside of Jersey where a good majority of the residents are cops. Many of them crooked under Keitel’s watch. Keitel is a veteran on the force who has a tight circle of corrupt officials on the take. When his nephew on the force known as Super Boy, Michael Rapaport, kills two black men in a drunken haze, Keitel’s criminal organization is in jeopardy.
Enter Robert De Niro as an Internal Affairs officer looking to take Keitel and his organization down. To do it he’s going to need Stallone’s help and maybe an assist from Ray Liotta whose own relationship with Keitel is beginning to crumble. Don’t expect a Cobra style shootout or Cliffhanger heroics. No this is a slow burn Alan Ladd as Shane or Gary Cooper as Will Kane styled build up and again, I’ve always loved this one from the first time I saw it to the most recent. Truth is I saw this on opening night, August 15th, 1997 at the local theater here in my hometown.
If you haven’t seen it I can only say it comes with my highest recommendation.
Others in the cast include ….
And one more time, Sylvester Stallone, in one of his finest roles.
“I look at this town, and I don’t like what I see.”