Cop Land – Exclusive Director’s Cut

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Rating: R

Starring:
Sylvester Stallone as Sheriff Freddy Heflin
Harvey Keitel as Ray Donlan
Ray Liotta as Gary ‘Figgsy’ Figgis
Robert De Niro as Lt. Moe Tilden
Peter Berg as Joey Randone
Janeane Garofalo as Deputy Cindy Bretts
Robert Patrick as Jack Duffy
Michael Rapaport as Murray ‘Superboy’ Babitch
Annabella Sciorra as Liz Randone
Noah Emmerich as Deputy Bill Geisler
Cathy Moriarty as Rose Donlan
John Spencer as Leo Crasky

Special Features:
Commentary from writer/director James Mangold, producer Cathy Konrad, actors Sylvester Stallone & Robert Patrick

Deleted scenes with optional commentary

Shootout storyboard sequence

“The Making of an Urban Legend” featurette

Other Info:
Widescreen (1.85:1) – Enhanced for 16×9 Televisions
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French Language Track
Running Time: 116 minutes

Synopsis:
This is the director’s cut of the 1997 film and it features 11 extra minutes.

Freddy Heflin is the sheriff of a small town across the river from New York City in New Jersey. The town is unique in that it is mostly populated by cops and their families. Unfortunately, most of the cops are funded by the mob in order to get mortgages for their new homes. Despite the rampant corruption, the overweight and somewhat indifferent Helfin is on good terms with these cops. In fact, he aspires to join the New York City police but he is repeatedly turned away because he is deaf in one ear.

When the nephew of policeman Ray Donlan gets into trouble, the police of Cop Land rally to hide him and fake his death. Freddy is aware of what’s going on but he turns a blind eye towards it because the men are his friends. But when internal affairs investigator Lt. Moe Tilden talks with Freddy, his conscience gets the better of him. But how can a lowly sheriff that nobody takes seriously take on a whole town of corrupt cops alone?

“Cop Land” is rated R for violence, strong language and brief nudity.

The Movie:
I saw Cop Land when it first hit theaters back in 1997 and I enjoyed it quite a bit back then. Now having seen the “Director’s Cut,” I recognize that it is still a powerful story with a strong cast. I didn’t remember enough about it to recognize what was added for this “director’s cut”, but it was still a film worth revisiting.

Cop Land is essentially a Western in a modern setting. You have all the typical elements of the genre. You have the town sheriff standing alone against the bad guys. You have a showdown. You have a shootout. You have the face-off in the saloon. It’s all here except for the stampede. The story is just wrapped in a different package by being set in modern New York. As I watched this film again in 2004, I realize that this would be a difficult movie to make now. Highlighting corruption among New York police isn’t a popular subject these days.

The cast of Cop Land is as good as you could possibly ask for. This marks a landmark role for Sylvester Stallone. He departs from the action genre to return to his dramatic roots. He packs on 40 extra pounds, sports a cut nose through most of the movie, and is generally shy and restrained. It’s not your typical Stallone super-star role, but he handles it nicely. This movie showed he was capable of acting in more dramatic films. Ray Liotta also stands out as Gary ‘Figgsy’ Figgis, a corrupt cop who develops a conscience when Freddy makes his stand. He’s a liar, a thief, a drug addict, and worse, but you still sympathize with him and root for him to stand by Freddy. Liotta really holds his own against everyone else. The rest of the cast is also excellent. You have Harvey Keitel, Robert DeNiro, Peter Berg, Janeane Garofalo, Robert Patrick , and Michael Rapaport, all of whom are excellent and deliver fine performances.

The story takes a few good twists and turns along to way. It wraps you up in the lives of the characters and you really care what happens to them. That makes the final showdown at the end even more impressive. After seeing the film 7 years ago, the climactic ending still stands out in my mind. There is an intense gun battle that’s made all the more unique in the fact that Freddy is rendered totally deaf during it. It’s a nice bit of action choreography.

The Extras:
There are a few DVD extras included on this “Exclusive Director’s Cut”. They are highlighted below:

Commentary from writer/director James Mangold, producer Cathy Konrad, actors Sylvester Stallone & Robert Patrick – This is one of the more interesting commentaries that I’ve heard in a while. The discussion is fast paced, lively, and informative. Since the movie was filmed so long ago, all involved can look back with a critical eye and give their honest thoughts on the film. The final result is a quite candid commentary. Sylvester Stallone is also talkative and intelligent, quite a contrast from his on-screen character. This commentary is well worth listening to.

Deleted scenes with optional commentary – There are two deleted scenes. Both of them seem to emphasize that the corrupt cops are also racist, an aspect of the story removed from the final version. The first shows the off duty cops chasing down a couple of black men driving through the town with loud music. They pull them over, harass them, and generally step all over Freddy’s authority. The second scene shows Janeane Garofalo’s character reclining on a couch with Stallone and making the point that most of the people pulled over in the town are black. I suppose these scenes were removed to show the real world cops in a little better light, but I can’t imagine they were pleased with the film to begin with.

Shootout storyboard sequence – This is your typical DVD feature where they compare the original storyboards from a key scene to the final shots in the film. This one features the big shootout at the end of the film, and it’s amazing to see how well the storyboards match the final product.

“The Making of an Urban Legend” featurette – This is a short “making of” feature that mainly highlights writer / director James Mangold. They talk about how he came up with the idea, wrote the script, and boldly demanded the job of director for the film despite having never directed before. They also discuss how this stellar cast all came on board. It started with Stallone and went on from there. It’s not particularly in-depth, but it is interesting.

The Bottom Line:
If you’ve never seen Cop Land, I think you’ll find it well worth checking out, especially so if you’re a fan of any of these actors. If you’ve already seen Cop Land, I think you may find it worth revisiting, but I can’t say the director’s additions stand out.

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