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Mystery Movies - Cop

Buy Cop
James Woods, Lesley Ann Warren, Charles Durning, Charles Haid
Directed and written by James B Harris
1988
MGM Home Video 2005
111 minutes

James Woods stars as Lloyd Hopkins an obsessive LAPD police officer who is the only one to see the mark of a serial killer in a recent murder. Woods is very good in this role and his take on the disturbed cop whose life is crumbling around him as he digs deeper and deeper into the crime is excellent. Cop is based on Blood On The Moon by James Ellroy and you definitely get the noir feel in this movie. Unfortunately, the writing and directing by James B. Harris make Cop feel a lot longer than it already is and to go along with the movie you definitely have to mothball your own detecting and mystery solving skills.

Perhaps this feeling comes from the fact Woods’ character meets co-star Lesley Ann Warren halfway through the movie. Perhaps it is because halfway through the movie Lloyd Hopkins has yet to be stripped of his badge and gun. Perhaps because there are many scenes in Cop that do not really have to do with the murder itself or sometimes not even character development. For example, Hopkins finds the murder victim’s friend and has a quickie with her. Then again, it could be because you are basically telegraphed the deputy chief is an idiot (he is labeled born-again) so it comes as no big surprise he turns down Lloyd Hopkins when he asks the chief for half the police force on overtime to find a serial killer because his gut tells him there is a serial killer.

You also need industrial strength willing suspension of disbelief with Cop. Anyone who has watched CSI will go “No way!” when they see how Hopkins basically pollutes the first crime scene with his fingerprints, taking and movie stuff, lighting a cigarette, and so on. True, forensics were not as big then as they are now but still. Also, search warrants are something Hopkins has never heard of so instead he breaks and enters the homes of the people he is looking into, including that of Warren’s character after he gets his first real clue halfway in the movie. When Hopkins blows away a civilian nothing happens because his partner “squares it with the boys downtown” and he then blows away a dirty deputy sheriff, while suspended, and again, his partner gets him off the hook somehow.

The scene in the interrogation room with Durning, Hopkins, and Woods feels forced and the characters seem to spew four letter words because someone told them it would add drama. This is then interrupted by the chief who suspends Hopkins:

Chief: As it is, there’s going to be a hearing to determine if you’re to be brought up on charges on half a dozen beefs including killing a fellow police officer.
Hopkins: Is that all?

This, of course, delays the serial murder investigation just when Warren figured out who the killer is. Not to worry though, there are only some ten minutes left to Cop and the ending is, to say the least, hard to believe.

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