Despite the haze of joyous '80s nostalgia that permeates proceedings, you can’t help watching with a healthy dose of 21st century cynicism.
It would take something special to convince Kevin Smith to make a film where he wasn’t responsible for the script. For Smith 'something special' equates to following in the footsteps of Beverly Hills Cop, F/X, 48 Hours and Lethal Weapon.
Indeed, one can only envision the grin that Kevin Smith must have had on his face as he went onto the set of Cop Outevery day. 'Oh wow,' you can imagine him thinking. 'I’m directing Bruce Willis in a Cop/Buddy movie!' But, despite the haze of joyous '80s nostalgia that permeates proceedings, you can’t help watching with a healthy dose of twenty-first-century cynicism.
NYPD detectives Jimmy (Willis who – as one character gleefully points out – is looking more like Professor X with each role) and Paul (Tracy Morgan, a stalwart of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock) find themselves on the trail of a stolen piece of sporting memorabilia.
More specifically, a rare baseball card that Jimmy hopes will pay for his daughter’s wedding. But the duo soon find themselves embroiled with a dangerous gang leader and fighting for their lives. Surprisingly, neither are days away from retirement nor express the sentiment that they are '...getting too old for this shit.'
Smith gets all the elements right: there’s the sun drenched US location, the broad establishing shots: hell, he even manages to get Harold Faltermeyer in to do the score. But it still seems rather stale. Partly this is due to the fact that Smith’s strength has always been in character and dialogue. There are moments in Mark and Robb Cullen’s script that are tailor-made for him, as Willis and Morgan (who do have a good chemistry) sit around and chew the fat.
An extended sequence in which they escort an adrenaline hooked burglar played by Seann William Scott is particular funny, with some lovely interplay and sharply crude lines. But when it comes to the action, Smith can’t rise to the occasion. Whilst Smith uses crash zooms and slow motion to evoke the likes of Michael Bay, it just feels clumsy and drawn-out.
When thinking about the history of buddy/cop filmsit should be remembered that – apart from some glorious exceptions – the majority of the genre were rather mediocre and obvious affairs. In that respect Cop Outis perhaps too good of a homage.
Kevin Smith takes on a classic '80s genre.
Some of the talky scenes are genuinely funny, with some sparkling dialogue.
It can’t sustain itself and loses steam by its climax.