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With: Kevin Bacon, James Freedson-Jackson, Hays Wellford, Shea Whigham, Camryn Manheim
Written by: Jon Watts, Christopher D. Ford
Directed by: Jon Watts
MPAA Rating: R for language, violence and brief drug use
Running Time: 86
Date: 08/07/2015

Cop Car (2015)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Trunk Show

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Directed and co-written by Jon Watts, this deceptively simple, low-budget thriller delivers its extremely satisfying suspense through minimal characters, wide-open spaces, and poker-faced patience.

Two midwest boys, Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) and Harrison (Hays Wellford), run away from home, practicing curse words and poking at snake holes. They come across a seemingly abandoned cop car and after, playing around, decide to take it. That's bad news for the crooked sheriff Kretzer (Kevin Bacon), who has just returned from dumping a body in the woods.

As the boys have fun on their joy ride, the sheriff tries to get his car back, desperately stooping to trickery and robbery to do it. It turns out that the sheriff has something to hide, and the arrival of a good samaritan (Camryn Manheim) only complicates matters.

The minimalistic Cop Car gleefully revels in details, like the Kretzer character spending long minutes breaking into a car with his shoelace, or the kids nail-bitingly testing out a bullet-proof vest.

Watts creates more suspense through the use of wide, empty country landscapes dotted with landmarks (a barbed-wire fence, a snake-hole, etc.) crossed with close-ups; Kevin Bacon is especially good here, feverish and furious in his pointy mustache and dark glasses. The spare use of music, and toward the end, an incredible use of light (in the dark, the kids turn on the siren but can't find the headlights), make this an inventive joy ride well worth seeing.

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