Spoiler Warning

Always assume Spoilers and possible profanity in context. These are often adult themed movies.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Cop Land

What About It?
(for a full summary of the film, scroll down to "What Happens?")
Cop Land is a huge movie, packed with character and information. With such a stellar cast, it's hard to imagine everyone getting their full story told, but it tries. This is made easier by the fact that these character's have a lot in common, they're all cops, and they're all affected by a shared history. Everyone in Garrison is reaping the benefit of Ray's deal with the mob, and they all carry the guilt of the scandals Ray has had to quiet, with Tunney in the past and in this movie with Murray, as well as the day to day corruption, allowing drug traffic as part of the arrangement. This creates a haven for cops with the intent being that all the consequences are left in NY with the precinct. Of course, it doesn't always work out that way and the strain is visible on the key players.
Stallone's Freddy, stands out, in that he alone is not part of the group, although he is tightly linked to them. He's not a cop but he is law enforcement. He admires cops and wants to be one himself. Initially Freddy in content to keep his eyes and mouth shut, feeling grateful perhaps to be Sheriff, which, along with his association with Ray's group, allows him to feel almost like a cop. That isn't to say he's happy. Freddy is badly broken, and has long ago given up on any goals he might have had. He serves as almost comic relief for the cops in Garrison, being nothing more than a toothless guard dog. His job is to give out speeding tickets to those who aren't cops, and investigate stray trash bags. He's impossibly meek about his role, allowing himself to be pushed around and demeaned with a smile. He's very aware of how he's regarded. Yet, Freddy is not naturally that meek, he's simply too beaten to react anymore. Some of this he dilutes with his drinking. We get the feeling that Freddy was handpicked for his role, as he doesn't appear to be any threat whatsoever to the nature of Ray's plans in Garrison.
It's interesting to see Stallone surrounded by so many fine actors, as a weak performance would stand out in this film like a sore thumb. Other than Rocky, Stallone has never seemed as if he was out to court critical acclaim with his acting rage. But, here, I can't imagine someone pulling the role off better. He puts on the role of Freddy completely. We never get Freddy as an imposing figure, like Stallone often plays. Freddy is not a fighter. If he ever was, he's forgotten how a long time ago. Freddy just soaks up abuse like a sponge. Of course, his despair is deeper than not being a cop. He's constantly slighted by the woman he's in love with, and continues to meekly put himself out there in front of her. 

Annabella Sciorra's Liz is another different twist on a character. Although, Freddy has been pining for her since he saved her life (and maybe before) She feels almost no consideration for him, other than a mild obligation to humor him. She casually mentions that she called him about her trash bag problem because she didn't want to bother her husband Joey (the real cop) with it. He doesn't mutter a word of protest, even helps her abuse him saying, quite genuinely, "I'll take care of it. it's Ok. He's got the city to worry about, right?" She doesn't even bother to say yes or no to smooth over the ugly moment, just leaves him to go through her trash and investigate. When he tells her what she already knows, that it's Rose's trash, he offers to talk to Joey. She again scorns him, saying "Why, you didn't marry him." rubbing salt again in Freddy's wounds. He contents himself with a ritual of listening to sad Bruce Springsteen songs while thinking about her. She even ruins this ritual by telling him that he could get his records on CD now, only for Freddy to remind her that it wouldn't make much difference to him (due to his deafness.) She quickly brushes off a potentially intimate moment, suggesting that Joey or no, she's not interested in him. Freddy confides in her once he decides to go after Ray, essentially scolding him and revealing the root of her character by defending Joey's participation as him "only wanting a place for them to live." and then cruelly suggesting Freddy is trying to imitate Joey.  Sciorra plays the character perfectly, superficially pleasant, but terminally shallow and thoughtless, making Freddy's pining all the more tragic.

Harvey Keitel's Ray is a perfect part for him. Ray is the planner and architect of Garrison. He doesn't need to say or do much as he has many people willing to do his bidding. He functions as a mob boss of cops, although he has people he answers to himself. He's content with his role in things, and determined to defend the status quo at all costs. He recognizes limits but is very skilled at working within them. He can get an investigation suspended but wouldn't attack the Internal Affairs office. He has a balancing act to maintain, as his livelihood and lifestyle depends on illegal activity, but he still has some responsibility to uphold the law. He is very proud of being a cop, and feels very entitled by that, as we see when he tells Deputy Cindy Betts, "See, officer, in Garrison, when the car you're gonna tag has a PDA sticker, I'd advise you to think to yourself, Hey, that's one of the good guys, I think I'll go catch me a bad guy. " Keitel tells us more with a look than a sentence many times, his silent fuming at disrespect, from Joey Randone and from Figgis, tells us what he's capable of, and has us immediately concerned for their safety. Ray has no trouble with murder, even that of other cops, and his own nephew, should it endanger his plans. Ray is very clever and competent, never doing more than he needs to to achieve his goals. When he wants to get of Joey, he realizes that all he needs to do is be a bit late to rescue him. He's an eager opportunist, although if the situation hadn't presented itself, he certainly would've made sure another one did.
Robert DeNiro's Moe is also great for the screen time he has. He's essentially an agent of change, and Freddy's wake up call. Freddy not quite being a cop, actually works in Moe's favor as Freddy doesn't have the instinctual enmity for IA that the cops do. He's able to establish a bond, saying we're both law enforcement. Moe in his own way is as ruthless as Ray at working within channels, very easily insulting and scorning Freddy himself when he offers to help after he has the case closed on him, in the hopes that Freddy will get mad and turn things over so he can reopen a case. Moe's smugness wen visiting Garrison is amusing, Ray and him both knowing that it isn't just a random visit. We get a hint of a history between the two of them years ago, and it's clear that Moe would like nothing better than to bring Ray down. Moe is a by the book cop however and Ray is certainly aware that there's little he can do, if nobody talks. Moe and Ray are essentially the good and bad tugging at Freddy, and neither man is very reassuring.

Ray Liotta's Figgis is the closest thing Freddy has to a friend. He's as tarnished as any of the other cops, a coke head, who thinks nothing of major insurance fraud if it lets him start over. Of alll of the Garrison cops however, Figgis is bitter, as he reveres his ex partner Tunney, a casualty of Ray's machinations, and carries some guilt over what happened himself. Figgis however accepts some of the guilt and has trouble keeping quiet about it, knowing it was a terrible thing, even if it means beating himself up, he can't forget it. Yet, for all his bitterness, Ray has some genuine compassion for Freddy, perhaps relating to his plight as he himself ended up being far less than had probably hoped. Of everyone involved, he's the only person other than Liz to notice Freddy's tragedy. WHen he tells Freddy, "Then you have to watch as this girl you saved, this beauty queen, marries this cocksucker. And you with your ear, you can't even get a desk on the force. You're fucked. Be jealous, Freddy. Let it out. I would." we get Figgis' regard for him. Later Figgis concern causes him to fight his own self interest, and save Freddy's life, helping him finish bringing Ray down, even though it means killing his fellow cops. Their friendship is an interesting one, having their beaten states as their common denominator. Freddy realizes Figgis torched his own house, yet never seems to entertain the idea of bringing in Ray, knowing Ray enough to know, that his girlfriend's death was not intentional. This also illustrates that Freddy is not hung up on the letter of the law. Like Ray, he has his own grey area.  Yet unlike Ray, murder and mob collusion clearly crosses that line.

 The rest of the cast is also terrific. Robert Patrick playing Jackie as an eager psychopath. Arthur Nascarella's Frankie, is the more reasonable enforcer. The two of them serve well as Ray's henchmen, mirroring a mob type association. Michael Rapaport is great as Murray Babitch, the clueless and not too bright victim, in way over his head. There isn't a weak performance in the film, and there's so much going on, that again, it's amazing that Freddy is able to remain the undeniable center of everything. The fact that he appears less capable than anyone else only makes his character work better. Freddy is easily underestimated. He's assumed to be dumb and uncaring. When Moe tells him that nobody's watching the cops in Garrison, Freddy insists. "I am." and we don't believe him, but we're wrong. Freddy is watching everything as we realize when he asks Ray if he got the materials from Berta at the bomb squad. Even drunk, playing pinball, while they attempted a discreet exchange, Freddy saw what was happening. He just hadn't chosen to act, choosing willful blindness and ignorance.

Freddy spells out his own dilemma to Ray, saying "You know, if i saw Liz, drowning in the water, if I saw that today, I wouldn't go in. I'd stand there, and I'd think about it. And, that's the best thing I ever did with my life." This reveals much about Freddy, namely that despite his failure to get anywhere with Liz, to be a cop, or the resulting deafness, he still counts that action as a success. Freedy still believes in goodness. he just feels powerless to contribute to it anymore. He recognizes that Ray is bigger than him and wouldn't know where to begin. When he finds a direct action, retrievig Murray and bringing him in to IA, he sees his chance to do something right again, and won't be stopped. Figgis proves correct that "being right is not a bulletproof vest." and fortunately Freddy's newly awakened belief and determination are rewarded, by Figgis returning to help him, telling us that Ray's spread of corruption is not complete.

We also see however, that the lingering belief in goodness is not necessarily kind to it's bearers, as the most corrupt seem to bear their guilt without qualm, while Figgis and Freddy are tortured wrecks. Freddy's good and law abiding deputies are a disappointment as well, neither of them willing to risk anything to help Freddy, as it appears obviously dangerous. Moe's detachment is similar, in that he's likely willing to have Freddy get himself in serious trouble, in order to reopen the case, although likely too late to help Freddy.  However, the result of the tortured psyche's of Figgis and Freddy, is that they are both willing to sacrifice everything when it dawns on then that the situation is intolerable; Figgis for the sake of friendship and guilt, Freddy, for the chance to do something good with his life again.

In Cop Land, James Mangold gives us a dense film which plays like a small one. Garrison is the perfect setting for the story and the cops playing the gangsters, and the importance of "being a cop" in this world, shows that there is a big difference between the law and justice.  Freddy will never be a cop, but he can help justice along here and does, simply by finally deciding to take action, rather than just thinking about it. He provides himself another chance to accomplish something good with his life and prove he's capable of more than anyone thought of him


What Happens?

Moe Tilden (Robert DeNiro) narrates as we zoom overhead from NY to NJ cityscape. "Back in the 70's, every cop wanted out of the city. But, the only cops allowed to live outside NY were transit cops, because the transit authority was also run by Jersey and Connecticut. So, these guys I knew at the 3-7, they started pulling overtime at subway stations and got the city to declare them auxiliary transit cops. They bought some land in Jersey, got cheap loans from people they knew. They made themselves a place where the shit couldn't touch them. That's what they thought anyway. (pause) Every precinct has it's cop bar, all blue, no civilians. For the 3-7, it was the Four Aces, just across the river. "

We then see the Four Aces , in Garrison, NJ and zoom inside to find Sheriff Freddy Heflin (Sylvester Stallone) playing a cop themed pinball game. Moe narrates "They hired this local sheriff, a wannabe, who couldn't get on the force, on account of his bad ear." Officer Gary Figgis (Ray Liotta) has a conversation with a woman cop, Berta (Edie Falco) while discreetly exchanging a duffel bag. Figgis' girlfriend tells him she has to go, but Figgis says he has to wait for a call.
When everyone leaves but Freddy and Figgis, Freddy asks Figgis for quarters, but is quickly dismissed when the call he'd waited for comes. Freddy ambles to the parking lot and opens a parking meter, accidentally spilling quarters everywhere. Figgis sees this when his call is done and remarks to Freddy, "There are two kinds of people in this world, pinball people and video game people. You Freddy, are pinball people." Freddy remarks "Always got something to say, Figgsy." while stumbling towards him,clearly drunk. Figgis encourages him to go home to bed, opening the door of his car. Figgis asks if he's alright to drive and he insists that he is. However, driving home, we see Freddy having trouble keeping his eyes on the road, and he drives the car off the road into a tree.

In NY, we find some other cops having a bachelor party.   We find Officer Murray Babitch (Michael Rapaport) tired of the party. He leaves, but hearing a noise of distress, pulls his gun from the glove box, and checks out the noise. He finds two officers, Frankie Lagonda(Arthur J. Nascarella) and Jackie Rucker (Robert Patrick)  in an alley throwing up. They assure Murray they're fine, calling him Superboy, and wish him a safe drive home. Murray puts his pistol on the seat and drives off. A car sideswipes him out of the blue, and he pursues them, flashing his badge out the window. He sees two black men in the car, and the passenger just says "No." laughing and pointing his steering wheel club as if it were a gun. Murray pulls away thinking it was a gun. He continues following, but his tire blows out. Rather than let them escape he fires at their car. It spins around facing him and he rams right into it.
Murray's fellow cops, including Jacki and Frankie, are at the scene quickly, along with paramedics.  Jackie finds some crack cocaine in the car and takes it. The paramedic questions the scene as a traffic incident, noting that the guys were shot six times. Jackie tells them to "shut up and do their fucking jobs." We see Ray Donlan (Harvey Keitel) arrive, on the phone with someone about the situation. Murray, talking with Frankie, sees him and calls out "Uncle Ray, I saw a gun. He took a shot at me. I mean Tunney didn't even get the grand jury for shit like this." Frankie says "Fuck the GJ.You're Superboy, huh? You saved, what, six black babies?"  Another officer Leo Crasky (John Spencer) announces that there was no gun. He describes the scene to Murray, telling him "You fucked up and you wasted a couple of shitbags, who aren't worth the hair on the crack of your ass. So, you cool it with the pattycake morality, because without me, kid, those stiffs will put you in a room where you will fuck your Uncle and everything he's built."  Leo and Ray discuss some "sympathetic" measures they'll have to take, but Murray protest, saying "You don't have to do this."
Leo nods instructions to Jackie, who plants a gun in the car to replace the Club. He then announces he found it,, but the paramedic calls him out on it, insisting there was no gun. Murray walks to the edge of the bridge and mutters about losing his badge. Jackie and the paramedic argue, Jackie pointing a gun at the paramedic, who has taken the gun, and throws it over the bridge. While the fight escalates, Ray announces, "Oh my God! He jumped!"
We catch up with Freddy, the next morning with a bandaged nose, eating breakfast at his house, with his Deputy Bill Geisler (Noah Emmerich.) Freddy asks about the car and what Bill told the Mechanic. Bill says he told him the Sheriff was chasing a speeder. Freddy reads the headlines, announcing "HERO COP TAKES PLUNGE, shoots teens, jumps off bridge." At the NY police station we see the paramedics, waiting to give statements, the one who fought with Jackie insisting "There's no way that guy jumped." We see Moe Tilden in charge of the questioning. He tells an officer who claims Murray jumped without having seen it, that he's off the force if he doesn't tell them what they want to know, and telling the policeman's lawyer to shut up.

In Garrison, we find Deputy Cindy Betts (Janene Garofolo) pulling over a speeder, who turns out to be Ray, with Jackie in the car also. We see that Murray is in the backseat, and Ray tells him to get down and cover himself. Cindy insists on seeing Ray's license after Jackie makes a smart assed remark. Ray tells her "Listen, miss Betts, you're new, right?"
Cindy: Yes, I'm new here, but I'm not new on the job...
Ray sees Freddy pull up and calls him over and the continues "See, officer, in Garrison, when the car you're gonna tag has a PDA sticker, I'd advise you to think to yourself, Hey, that's one of the good guys, I think I'll go catch me a bad guy. " Cindy doesn't budge, until Freddy comes up to the car and compliments Ray's car, and tells Cindy to back off. As they drive away, Freddy sees Murray looking out the back window.

Moe Tilden stops in at A Garrison corner store, where Ray, Jackie and Frankie hang out, to get a cup of coffee. Ray offers to come in next week to talk about Murray.  Ray introduces Jackie to Murray saying "Moe was my classmate in the Academy, back in the day. Before he fell in love with this redhead and IA had him transferred." Moe smirks and says "Is that how it went, Ray?" As Moe leaves, Ray mutters, "Fucking rat." Freddy has watched the exchange from outside. Moe returns to his car as Freddy walks by and remarks that he thought Freddy gave him a ticket, as there was a flyer on his windshield. Freddy stops to break up some kids fighting and then returns to Moe, who asks him about being a Sheriff. He gives Freddy his card, telling him if he ever wants to talk about anything, it's confidential. Meanwhile Ray and Jackie talk, Jackie suggesting that someone is talking, possibly Figgis.

Freddy stops at the Randone household to returns a stuffed animal he saw fall off the car, while watching Liz Randone (Anabella Sciorra)put her daughter in the car. Liz tells him that someone's been dumping trash in their spot, and she didn't want to bother her husband, Joey (Peter Berg) with it. Freddy remarks, "I'll take care of it. it's Ok. He's got the city to worry about, right?" Freddy goes through the trash bag that doesn't belong and then goes to Ray's house to talk to Ray's wife, Rose (Cathy Moriarty.) He tells Rose he found her phone bill in the bag. Rose denies it's hers, and says it isn't a police matter. She tells him to tell Joey Randone, that "if he doesn't like my garbage, then he should stop soiling my sheets." She asks Freddy if he's going to tell Ray, but Freddy says no, and leaves as Ray pulls up. Freddy parks by a bridge, backing up his deputy. He has a memory of sitting by the bridge when he was young and seeing a car drive off it and into the water. Later that night, he calls Liz, offering to talk to Joey, and telling her it was Rose's trash. She asks "Why? You didn't marry him." Freddy says "I'm your friend." at which she brushes him off and gets off the phone.

The repercussions of the killing on the bridge are hitting the news. The official police statement, blames "the system" for Murray jumping, as he knew he wouldn't get a fair trial. The families of the victims, however, are calling for a human blockade of the bridge, to protest as rumours have come out about cops trying to plant evidence at the scene. Figgis and Freddy watch the news at the 4 Aces. Figgis remarks to Freddy, "The Diagonal rule. Red light, you don't fight. You make a right. It's more important than the Golden Rule. If Superboy knew that, he'd still be alive, Freddy." Joey Randone comes up to Freddy and mentions him saving "Dolly the Turtle." Freddy meekly suggests that they should talk, but Joey doesn't pay much attention. Figgis criticizes Joey for making a stupid bet, and Joey tells Figgis "Well, at least I'm not the one sniffing my money away."  After Joey insults Figgis, Figgis remarks to Freddy "Dumb fuck like that, PD. How does that make you feel, Freddy?" Freddy just says "I don't care." Figgis says "Look Freddy, I say it's ok to be jealous. You saved this girl's life right? From it, from risking yourself, saving her sorry ass, you go deaf as a result."
Freddy: In one ear.
Figgis: In one ear. Then you have to watch as this girl you saved, this beauty queen, marries this cocksucker. And you with your ear, you can't even get a desk on the force. You're fucked. Be jealous, Freddy. Let it out. I would."

Ray calls Figgis over to talk, at a table with Jackie and Frankie. Ray asks him about IA, and Figgis insists he isn't talking to anyone. Jackie starts mouthing off to Figgis, and when he insults his girlfriend. Figgis punches him and then threatens Jackie with a dart held up his nose. He points out a picture on the wall to Jackie saying "Look at Tunney. That was my partner.That was a cop." Ray tells Figgis to let him go and go home. Figgis yells "Don't shut me out, Ray. You found us a sweet little town. You got us the low interest, and I'm grateful. But, don't forget who it was that you came to two years ago, to cover your ass."
Ray: Get him out of here, Freddy
Figgis: It's not my fault that you can't look at him [pointing to picture of Tunney] You sit in this chair, with your back to him. You want it to go away, but I'm still here. In for a penny, in for a pound."

We see the Randone house again, Joey pounding on the door, but Liz won't let him in. She tells him to go see Rose. Freddy's and Bill pull up. Joey tells Freddy to go home. We see that Joey is bleeding a little. Freddy asks "Mind if I check up on Liz?" Joey says, "Yes I do, I mind." When Freddy walks to the door anyway, he says "I said, I mind, Freddy." Freddy knocks on the door and calls Liz. Joey asks, "Does Ray know? Freddy, does Ray know?" Freddy sees that Liz is Ok. Joey remarks "Your Uncle Freddy is here to rescue you again." Joey shoves Freddy and kicks open the door. Freddy offers to drive Liz to a hotel, but Liz says that Joey didn't do anything. She just hit him with a bottle. Freddy falls asleep on his couch, remembering the car falling into the water again, this time, he remembers pulling an unconscious Liz out of the car, and pushing against a window with the side of his face (and his ear,)

Freddy responds to a fire at Figgis' house, where they find his girlfriend badly burned, near death. Figgis arrives just before she dies and she says she had come to see him. Figgis sits at the Sheriff's office the next day and tells Cindy "Fucker's getting payback." Cindy asks who and he says "Ray' who do you think." Freddy tells Figgis "Lenny said it wasn't suspicious. He said it was electrical."  Ray comes in nextand asks Figgis to look at him. Ray offers to call in for Figgis to buy him a couple weeks.

They then have the service for Murray. A reporter on the scene compares Murray to Officer Tunney,a hero cop who was killed in his jail cell waiting for a grand jury. Ray makes a point of introducing Freddy to the head of the PDA, Vincent Lasarro (Frank Vincent) and then recommends Freddy,prompting an offer of a possible job. Ray tells Freddy "That's how things happen." They bury Murray's uniform. There's an exchange of looks at the funeral between Rose, Joey, Liz, and Ray, Ray looking upset.

At Freddy's office, after the service, he finds Moe there waiting for him. He shows Freddy pictures of Ray associating with drug runners. Moe says"I don't know how you do it, Sheriff. keeping all these Hessians in line. All blue, everybody packing, all together. One door down from the next, wives borrowing the sugar. It's like you're the Sheriff of Cop Land." Freddy gets defensive, when Moe suggests that no one's watching the cops, and claims that he is. Moe points out that they buried a suit today and that should bother him, claiming that they both know Murray isn't dead, and that Ray wasn't so kind with Tunney in the past. He adds "Besides the church traffic, and the cats in trees and all that bullshit, there isn't much here for you to do, to keep your mind busy.But, I look at you, Sheriff, and I see a man who's waiting for something to do. And,here I am. Here I am, saying 'Sheriff, I got something for you to do."

Ray is having a goodbye party for Murray at his house, and he gets a phone call, telling him that Murray needs to be found in the river at some point to make the case go away. Ray says "He's my sister's kid." The voice on the line says "Didn't you say he was adopted?" Freddy shows up at the door and says the party after the funeral doesn't make things easy for him. He mentions Moe coming to visit with pictures asking about Murray. and says "I'm the Sheriff, I mean, I'm supposed to know what's going on. How do you think this looks?" Ray says "Go home Freddy. Don't think so much."
Freddy mildly argues, but Ray shuts the door, telling him to go. Rose writes a note on a napkin and hands it to Murray wrapped around a drink,which Murray doesn't immediately understand.

Liz shows up at Freddy's place complaining about Joey. He invites her in to talk and she says "You know it's a funny thing when you owe someone your life. Why is it you never got married, Freddy?" Freddy tells her "All the best girls were taken." They kiss and she says "This is crazy." Freddy says "Yes." and she decides to leave.

At the party, Murray discovers the note on the napkin, which tells him that they're going to kill him. Jackie calls him,telling him Ray's waiting for him. Murray takes a gun when he goes out. Murray thanks Ray for everything he's done. He tells Murray "I always liked you. You just sweat too much." Frankie and Jackie join them outside. Jackie tells him "Sorry it came out this way." Murray says "It's not that bad, Jackie." He answers, "Yeah, it is ,Murray." before pushing his head into the pool nearby. Joe Randone pulls up to Ray's house while this is going on and hears gunshots from Murray pulling firing blindly trying to get away. He goes to check it out and finds them chasing Murray down. He asks Ray what's going on, as he'd claimed he was setting up Murray with a new life. Ray just says "You think I'm all that, Joey?" and gets back to chasing Murray.

Moe meanwhile is at his office, and angry, knocking over files,telling everyone that the Garrison case is closed as the Mayor suspended it. At the Four Aces, Ray, Frankie and Jackie confront Joey,asking if he's going to help look for Murray. Joey says " Help Ray finish cleaning up his goddamn pool with the guy's head? Is that it? Huh, Mr. Humanitarian? You got something you want to say to me, Ray? Or, is this about something a little more personal?" Joey leaves them there. Jackie runs into Freddy in the bathroom and tells him "Instead of taking cop lessons from a cokehead, maybe you should be looking at that fire. My girl over at Chase says Figgis is missing a few payments."
Freddy: Where were you that night, Jack?
Jackie: I had nothing to do with it. That would be retribution, and that I leave to God almighty. I'm Gandhi.

Later Freddy has Figgis over his house. He tells Freddy "I'm telling you, the mob built this town for Ray so they could own a precinct. It's a deep and dark motherfuck." Freddy tells him "You know, if i saw Liz, drowning in the water, if I saw that today, I wouldn't go in. I'd stand there, and I'd think about it. And, that's the best thing I ever did with my life.
Figgis: So, you want to sit around your whole life wishing you were on the force? Or, do you want to bring the fucker in? Let em spill.
Freddy: I wouldn't know where to begin.
Figgis reminds him of his Diagonal rule, telling him not to confront Ray head on.

Joey and his partner are on the job in NY. Joey's partner has been cut up and Joey is fighting with a criminal on a rooftop. The partner has called for backup. The criminal throws Joe over the roof, but Joey catches an antenna. Ray finds the entrance to the roof but rather than rush to help, he locks the door and then calls everyone. Ray takes some time fidgeting with the lock, only opening it when the other cops suggest breaking the door down. By the time they get through, Joey has lost his grip and fallen to his death.
Murray shows up at Freddy's house looking for help. Freddy talks to him but Murray runs when he sees Figgis. Freddy and Figgis chase Murray but lose him.The next day, Freddy tells Ray that Murray came to see him saying Ray was trying to kill him. Ray tells him Murray's all mixed up "and so are you." Freddy suggests they all go in tomorrow and settle it. Freddy tells Ray "I look at this town, and I don't like what I see anymore." Ray says "Who the fuck do you think you are?"
Freddy goes into NY the next day to see Moe. (His presence is noticed by Berta) He tells Moe he was right.  Moe ignores Freddy to talk about his lunch.
Freddy: What is this? You came to me, to my town, with all your speeches and you're talking about doing the right thing. And, I'm doing the right thing and what's going on? What are you doing?
Moe: That was like, two weeks ago. 
Freddy: Two weeks ago? What about Babitch?
Moe: What about him?Fuck him.
Freddy: What about Donlan?
Moe: Fuck him too.
Freddy: What about Joey Randone?
Moe: He fell off a building. Don't you read the papers? Listen Sheriff, I'm really sorry to have awoken you from your slumber,but it's over. Hands are tied now. You shut me down.
Freddy: No, you're IA.That's why I came to you. You can do whatever you want. Remember you came to me and said "You want to be a cop?" I'm being a cop.
Moe: I offered you a chance. Listen to me 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. 
Freddy leaves, saying "You people are all the same.

After he's gone, Moe says "That cupcake makes a mess, we got a case again." On his way out, Freddy notices the Garrison files in the IA office and grabs some folders. He realizes that Figgis was right. Ray lets the mob run drugs through their precinct, in return for their nice houses. His deputies tell him his files are illegal and he shouldn't be going through them. Cindy tells him there's nothing he can do about any of it.Freddy says that he can bring in Murray. Cindy then says she's going to get her old job back,because she doesn't want any part of this. Bill tells him "I don't know about Ray, but everyone in Garrison is not a murderer." Freddy says "No, they just keep their eyes closed and their mouth shut, just like me."

Freddy stops at the carnival, and notices a big turtle similar to the one Liz's daughter had, as a prize for a shooting game. Jackie comes up behind him and asks Freddy before he shoots "You enjoy your trip to the big city?" which makes Freddy miss his shot. Jackie then points out "You gotta get the next five to win." and when Freddy does, Jackie says "Oh shit." Freddy stops at Liz's place and tells her what's going on. Liz doesn't listen and says maybe they were doing the right thing.
Freddy: Everyone's houses are financed by these mob banks.
Liz: Says who? IA?
Freddy: Even you said Joey's death was no accident.
Liz: Joey fell off a building,Freddy. Ok? Now I don't need this opened up. Maybe you do, I don't. All Joey wanted was a place for us to live. Who are you to judge that,until you walked in his shoes? Maybe that's what you're trying to do with me.
Joey leaves the house and getting in his car, finds Frankie waiting for him in the back seat. He pulls a gun and tells him he can show them where Superboy is. Freddy tells him "If I knew where he was, he'd be in the city already." Frankie threatens him and leaves. Freddy gets home and notices Figgis' insurance check and Figgis getting ready to leave, as well as some strange residue on his duffel bag. Freddy goes to investigate the burn site. Figgis follows him there. and tells him he won't find anything because he took care of it.  Recalling the transaction between Figgis and Berta earlier, and knowing she was bomb squad,he asks if she got him the stuff, and if he knew his girlfriend would be there. Figgis says he didn't know,it was on a timer and she shouldn't have been there. Figgis says "It's all bullshit." Freddy gets angry and says "You, Figgis are the bullshit.
Figgis: Smarten fucking up.
Freddy: You even turned your back on Tunney when he needed your help. Figgis! I'm gonna find Superboy,and I'm gonna bring him in. And, for once,everybody in this town's gonna tell the truth.
Figgis: You gotta find him first,Freddy!
Freddy: I'll find him.
Figgis: Listen to me. I've got a check in my pocket for $200,000.00. I got a chance to start my life again.I don't give a shit about this town. I don't give a shit about that town, and I don't give a shit about your fucking justice. Being right is not a bullet proof vest, Freddy.
Freddy tells him to go an and run away.

Freddy goes to see Rose, telling her he's looking for her nephew. Rose says she doesn't know, but Freddy insists that he's his only chance. She tells him about a water tower and Freddy goes there and finds him.He tells him "Let's go." Figgis,is driving out of town and we see him yelling "Shut the fuck up, would you please? Shut the fuck up." before turning around. Freddy brings Murray to the Sheriff's office and holds him there, making Bill nervous. He tells Bill to go home.

Jackie and Frankie ambush Freddy escorting Murray to the car. Jackie fires his gun right next to Freddy's good ear and they grab Murray and leave with him, leaving Freddy on the ground in pain and totally deaf. Freddy grabs a shotgun and starts walking. He sees Frankie pull a gun but can't hear what he's saying. After he shoots at Freddy, he fires back at him. He sees Jackie next and pulls a pistol as Jackie is pulling his. He shoots and kills Jackie before Jackie can shoot him. He sees Frankie getting ready to shoot him, by looking the mirror of the car where Frankie fell when he was shot. He shoots Frankie again, but doesn't notice Leo Crasky, who comes out of the house and shoots Freddy knocking him down. As Leo is about to fire again, we see him get shot and that Figgis has come back and shot him. Inside the house, we see Ray taking aim. Figgis notices and shoots, breaking the window, before Ray runs off. Freddy goes into the house after him and sees Murray going out the window in the bedroom where Rose is in bed. Ray sneaks up behind Freddy, but Figgis shoots at him but misses. Freddy notices Ray and shoots him. Ray starts saying something but Freddy says "I can't hear you, Ray." as Ray dies.

Figgis helps Freddy bring Murray into the city as he can barely walk. Cops attempt to get in their way, but Moe sees them coming and goes out to meet them. He walks Freddy inside. Moe narrates "So, Gary Figgis cooped a plea, gave away the connection between Ray, the PDA and the mob. There were a shitload of indictments. And, the Sheriff, Freddy Heflin, you know there's people on both sides of the river wish he never recovered. They curse the day he took down Ray Donlan. But what they don't know, he figured out. No one is above the law." We hear news reports about arrests and Freddy recovering the hearing in his good ear. We see Freddy later, looking across the water at NY, as Billy comes to get his help with an accident.


photos by jan said...

Excellent, I love the way you do this. I will have to see this one for sure, if only for the unusual character of Styllone. I have never been a fan of his, you make it sound as if he has nearly redeemed himself in this one.

INDBrent said...

Hi Jan! Glad you're enjoying it! Yeah, the Stallone in this one is one I haven't seen before or since. Other than Rocky (which I love) this could well be his best role, and it's certainly different than anything else he's done. Well worth a look!

Unknown said...

Another excellent review for this underrated classic. I always felt that COP LAND was the best Sidney Lumet film not directed by Lumet. His influence casts a long shadow over this film as you see elements of PRINCE OF THE CITY and Q&A but it is still its own thing.

Too bad that this film wasn't more a commercial hit as maybe we would've seen Stallone take more chances and try more films like this. Surrounded by guys like De Niro, Keitel and Liotta really inspired Stallone to raise his game on this one and he is so damn good, reminding one of just how good an actor he can be with the right material.

Big Ray Liotta fan and he's so good in this film. He hadn't really done anything that wowed me since GOODFELLAS but he really hit it out of the park with COP LAND. He brings his trademark scary intensity to that great scene where he freaks out all over Robert Patrick's character and shoves that dart up his nose! Yikes...

INDBrent said...

Thanks J.D.! "Best Lumet film" yes, that completely fits! I found it rather inspiring and a little shocking to see Sly performing at the top of his game. I also loved Liotta in this, I haven't seen him in anything good recently, but when he's on, he's brilliant. The dart scene wowed me too, particularly since the build up we were given to that point had me expecting the Patrick character to brutalize him. A lot of underestimation going on in the story, but I smiled when Liotta took control of that, (and at the end.)

Unknown said...

Another great Liotta performance in recent years was NARC where he put some weight and really dove into a role of a corrupt cop. Definitely worth a look.

INDBrent said...

Oh yes, completely agree with you there! Liotta was nothing short of amazing, channeling that intensity you mention into his physical presence more than I've ever seen. Oaks seemed so imposing and unstoppable. I actually wrote that one up a while back. http://criminalmovies.blogspot.com/2011/03/narc.html

Unknown said...

Great write up for an amazing movie. Don't know who he is or how James Mangold pulled this one out of thin air, but the art is all the better for it. Looking forward to reading your write up of Narc.

websnacker said...

Excellent review Brent! The only Stallone movie that I REALLY liked! A true underrated gem that deserves more attention!

INDBrent said...

@MR.Destiny. Thanks for checking it out! It is interesting in that way isn't it? It's hard to believe it exists, as if it has a life of its own! Hope you enjoy the look at Narc too. That one also surprised me with its excellence.

INDBrent said...

@Hyder, Thanks! glad you enjoyed it!