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By Vernor Rodgers
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"COPSHOP"

"Copshop" is a decent thriller-drama that succeeds is creating ambiguity on who to trust and root for while spotlighting the courage of one character sworn to uphold what the job demands.

 Gerard Butler is a second-tier action star, quite good at what he does but has not achieved the revered status of a top-grade talent like Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson  or Jason Statham. Still Butler has enough muscle to be an executive producer of his projects, thus can send out such shoot-em-ups like "Copshop." Butler essentially shares screen time with Frank Grillo, from a couple of the "Purge" movies and promising actress Alexis Louder, set to be featured in the TV series "The Terminal List."

 "Copshop," directed and co-written --with Kurt McLeod -- by Joe Carnahan ("The A Team") pits Gerard as professional hitman Bob Viddick against Grillo as con man Teddy Murreto, a man with a price tag on his head. On the run, Murreto quickly improvises by assaulting Valerie Young (Louder), a rookie in a small-town police force, thus getting himself arrested and hopefully safely installed in a jail cell. But Viddick uses the same strategy, pretending to be a DUI with no identification and thus also is thrown into the same jail -- but different cells -- as Murreto.

 Meanwhile, Young, who seems to be the only person in uniform at the station with any competence, does some digging and learns about Viddick. All too soon another hitman, Anthony Lamb (Toby Huss), a real whacko with a warped sense of humor, arrives at the police station and turns it into a slaughterhouse. Now trapped in the jail ward with Viddick and Murreto, and seriously wounded, Young must decide whether to trust Viddick and let him loose so he can carry out his job, or heed warnings from Murreto that Viddick will just as routinely kill her. She doesn't have much time, as she is bleeding out and Lamb, assisted by a crooked cop, is about to break his way into the jail area.

 The is a lot of gunfire in this movie and Young proves to be resourceful but has to recover from some bad decisions.

 A beef with "Copshop" is that it has a side plot regarding corruption within the small town's law enforcement hierarchy that seems to be an attempt to throw some twists into the movie but ultimately serves no purpose.

 Luckily, an ambiguous ending leaves the audience speculating on how Young is going to handle the aftermath of all this brutal and deadly chaos.

 "COPSHOP" Official Trailer:   https://youtu.be/XoFTqr3Qx78

 

"CRY MACHO"

 It was 13 years ago when word came out that Clint Eastwood's role as the crusty Walt Kowalski in "Gran Torino" was going to be his swan song as an actor. He still planned to direct but the indications were he was now firmly dedicated to working solely behind the camera.

 So much for that. He played baseball scout Gus in "Trouble with the Curve" in 2012, the drug hauler Earl Stone in "The Mule" in 2018 and now aside from directing "Cry Macho" has the leading role.

 "Cry Macho" is based upon the novel by N. Richard Nash, who co-wrote the screenplay with Nick Schenk, and the title aside, it is really a gentle movie about getting another shot at life.

 Taking place in the late 1970s, Eastwood is Mike Milo, a former rodeo legend until a broken back ended that career. Dealt further tragedy when his wife and son are killed in an accident, Milo now is a washed up horse breeder and heavy drinker. The only thing keeping him from total destitution is his friendship with his ex-boss, Howard Polk (Dwight Yoakam), who keeps him from being homeless.

 When Polk asks a favor of Milo, the old man cannot turn it down. But it isn't going to be easy. Polk asks Milo to travel to Mexico to fetch Howard's teen son Rafo (Eduardo Minett), who is in the custody of his alcoholic mother and being abused.

 Milo has little trouble tracking down the mother, Leta (Fernanda  Urrejola), who appears to be living a pretty ritzy life, but she displays the emotional instability of the alcohol addled. She gives Milo a lead on where Rafo might be -- the cock fights -- and says, go ahead, take him to the United States. But upon Rafo being tracked down by Milo, Leta orders one of her henchmen to follow Milo and reclaim the boy.

 Rafo, pretty much alienated from his mother, lives on the streets and his only possession is his cockfight rooster, Macho. It is the rooster that is the toughest character in the movie.

 Indeed it is startling to see Eastwood, now in his 90s, walking around stiffly, no longer able to kick some ass. He does punch one guy, but it is the rooster that is the enforcer here.

 Rafo is eager to go live with his father, although he does have trust issues, understandably so. But the trip north has its problems. Milo's truck is stolen and the replacement vehicle Mike and Rafo obtain (Rafo claims that stealing cars is an accepted custom in Mexico), turns out to be a piece of junk.

 The breakdown of the car proves to be a twist of good fate. Mike and Rafo temporarily hole up in a small town, where they are befriended by Marta (Natalia Traven), a widowed woman who owns a local cafe and is raising her parentless granddaughters. While the friendship between Mike and Marta grows stronger, Mike also starts to fit in when he helps a local horse seller tame the wild horses that have been captured. He also helps Rafo prepare for life on his father's ranch by teaching the teen how to ride. Soon, townsfolk are bringing their ailing animals to Mike for treatment, as Mike says they must think he is Dr. Doolittle.

 The bond between Mike and Rafo hits bumps along the way but ultimately their shared goal of crossing the border to get into the United States, where Howard will meet them, grows strong.

 "Cry Macho" is definitely a feel-good movie. It is not likely to earn accolades like some of Eastwood's earlier directorial efforts, but it is a well-crafted and well-acted character study.

"CRY MACHO" Official Trailer:   https://youtu.be/JVc8SI5CAKw

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