Harold Faltermeyer came out of retirement to score Cop Out for Kevin Smith, Faltermeyer being the creator of the awesome Beverly Hills Cop “Axel F” theme. Every piece of music composed for Cop Out is reaching for that same magic, and it fails.
Actually, most of the movie seems to be reaching, trying to recreate those ’80s buddy cop movies with modern sensibilities. The soundtrack, awkward as it is, makes it feel like a knock-off, sort of like an episode of The Simpsons where the tune is just changed enough so that no copyright claims can be made.
The other issue is that while Kevin Smith directs, he does not write. That task was given to Mark and Robb Cullen, and the efforts to make it seem like a Kevin Smith effort fall flat. Dialogue lacks the wit and coarse, offensive charm of Smith’s previous efforts, replaced by dry exchanges with no life or connection to the plot.
Most of the film seems like an attempt to turn Tracy Morgan into Chris Tucker from Rush Hour with the same agonizing result. He’s loud and obnoxious, the non-stop rants tiresome and detrimental to the pacing. His tirade against Sean William Scott, handcuffed in the back of the car, does not have legs. Knock knock jokes, even when in capable comedic hands with plenty of raunch attached, add nothing to this story.
This is all familiar territory, two somehow compatible cops (who in reality seem to hate each other) are up against a ruthless Mexican drug lord. Two subplots fill this in, one to give Jimmy Monroe (Bruce Willis) a purpose to stay on their trail after his suspension, and the other too… well, it gives Tracy Morgan something to do. Neither story threads carry any surprise.
It would be bearable if this came off as true parody, but it never quite reaches that expectation. Action is bland, a car chase/shoot-out lacking both in laughs and intensity. Jokes routinely fall flat, and no one here even comes close to the charm of an Axel Foley. At that point, there are two Beverly Hills Cop movies worth watching, and the music is classic. Why waste the time here?
Cop Out opens on a shot of Brooklyn, not something that sets a high standard. Soft, flat, and loaded with artifacting in the river, this seems like another victim of Warner’s generally low bitrate VC-1 encodes for a new release. Things do clear up though, although with limited consistency. Facial detail is lost to softness in the early going, and some ringing is sporadically visible as well, although this seems less frequent as the movie enters into the later acts.
Later shots of the city perform better as well, including 25:48 where definition and detail is high in these aerial views. Noise and compression are in a constant struggle, jumping into the frame at random intervals to mar otherwise strong detail. Morgan’s face at 34:24 displays some noise, and inside the church at 14:51, compression wreaks havoc on the haze. The mid-range is typically handled poorly, or it appears slightly digital and processed. Welcome to a Warner encode.
Black levels are typically rich. These are at least consistent. Color remains natural with only a slightly added vibrancy to give them some life. Contrast remains firm and bright without running too hot.
The final shots of the film are the best, taking place at an outdoor wedding. Here it all comes together, with rich, delineated detail, exquisite sharpness, and tremendous depth. The forested area near the event is alive with defined trees and other plant life. Color gets a boost here as well, further adding to the eye candy on display. The rest of the film does not even come near this level of consistency, making transitions to and from those detailed close-ups a distraction.
Action kicks off early for Cop Out, with some punchy, satisfying gunfire at 8:05. Glass becomes a victim, shattering aggressively into the stereo channels and into the surrounds, about the best this DTS-HD track will perform. The car chase around 54:00 does not track well into the rears, sticking to the stereos with decent positioning.
The finale again produces those same deep, rich pops as Bruce Willis steps in to save the day around 1:28:00, while just a hint of rear speaker usage is noted. The shoot-outs lack that specific directionality critical to creating an immersive mix.
This is certainly not a terrible effort. Balancing is fine, the knock-off score firmly identifiable amidst heavy action, and dialogue is never lost or overpowered. Clarity is up to par for any modern feature.
The only extra is the Maximum Movie Mode, which is now titled Maximum Comedy Mode, and it lives up to the name alteration. Kevin Smith guides viewers through the movie, extending the running time to near three hours as he explores all aspects of the production. More importantly, he’s hilarious, moreso than most of the movie. His immediate rant about letterboxing is priceless, and it only gets better from there. Deleted scenes and dailies are inserted into this mode as well. If you have the time, it’s a must watch.
Note: Due to a glitch with the software used to take these screens, time stamps are not available.