Kids hold a certain kind of invincibility. A grounding now and then for some wrong-doing isn’t always enough to deter them from continuing their mischievous behavior. They can’t be arrested, they can’t be sent to jail, and juvie might be their biggest fears, but for the kids in Cop Car, a new film starring Kevin Bacon, getting caught might be the end of their lives after stealing a cop car from a belligerent and terrifying sheriff.
On just about any other day, two 10-year-olds, Harrison (Hays Wellford) and Travis (James Freedson-Jackson) find themselves exploring the barren countryside of Colorado. They are rebellious—spouting off the swear words that would get their mouths washed out with soap. Coming upon an abandoned cop car, they decide to go even further than curse words and take it for a spin—which, of course, does not go over well with Sheriff Kretzer (Bacon).
The film feels like a deliberate, thought-out cat-and-mouse chase that remains grounded in its story. Everything takes place over one disastrous afternoon as these two seemingly innocent boys set off a ticking time-bomb that could be very devastating for both of them. Wellford and Freedson-Jackson do well enough for first-timers, both evoking that innocent and naive mindset that all kids have in regards to the ignorance of their deeds and the inevitable consequences. Bacon, though, really steals it with an electrifyingly ruthless performance. We know he is not a good man, even if he is the one whose car is stolen, but we have to root against him because of just how evil he is.
Clocking in at just under 90 minutes, Cop Car doesn’t feel that short. The anxiousness that comes about throughout that brief time is enough for a 120-minute movie, all as it leads up to an explosive and harrowing climax. While it feels tight and concise, there are a few hokey moments that detract from its otherwise tense and stark mood.
Cop Car is a substantial cat-and-mouse thriller that, for the most part, feels fully realized with its solid performances and play on a stereotypical plot. It may not be the most explosive or popular movie of the summer, but there is definitely something here for fans of something a little more serious than usual.