While you’d think that Cop Land (Miramax), which features Scorsese alumni Robert DeNiro, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Frank Vincent and Cathy Moriarty would even be more Scorsese lite, it is in fact a pleasantly old fashioned film that often seems to owe more to the journeyman American directors like Stuart Rosenberg and Norman Jewison, who used to crank out films like this in the 60’s and 70’s. Structured like a Western, Cop Land is a generally excellent work that stars Sylvester Stallone as Freddy Heflin , a bulky , sleepy -eyed sheriff of Garrison, New Jersey, a small town across the George Washington Bridge from big bad New York City, where his biggest concern seems to be avoiding deer crossings. But the town, unknown to Freddy, has been bankrolled by the Mob, who have sold its homes cheaply to policemen in order to enlist them in drug trafficking. When crooked cop Harvey Keitel hides his cop nephew in the small town after a controversial incident, the sleepy town comes alive , and Internal Affairs man DeNiro (looking alarmingly like his King Of Comedy character, Rupert Pupkin) and coke-head cop Liotta open Freddy’s eyes to his surroundings.
Written and directed by James Mangold, this is a sober, intelligent, atmospheric film whose central High Noon -like conceit of the loner against the corrupt bad guys is as old as the hills, yet the film manages to tread the well worn ground with dignity. The performances are wonderful ,and the screenplay and direction are economical and beautifully focused. Stallone fans looking for action best stay away, however.