Director Joe Carnahan and a cast of grizzled action veterans deliver a bullet-ridden tale of bloody betrayal. Copshop takes place in the police station of the remote and dusty Gun Creek City, Nevada. Where a wanted con artist with a trove of secrets hatches a desperate scheme to avoid a deadly hit man. But there are other rats in the nest as a wicked psychopath joins the fray. Copshop revels in savage twists where the line between bad and worse is easily crossed.

Copshop opens with a wounded Teddy Murretto (Frank Grillo) racing for his life through the Nevada desert in an unmarked police car. He decides to take advantage of a brawl at a local casino. Rookie cop Valerie Young (Alexis Louder) and her commanding officer, Sergeant Mitchell (Chad L. Coleman), respond to the fracas. She's sucker punched by Teddy, who's eager to be arrested and locked up. Back at the precinct, Valerie tends to Teddy and wonders why he seems relieved to be behind bars.

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The safe haven is interrupted by a stumbling drunk driver who steers his way to Teddy's cell. Lucky for Teddy, the inebriated "John Doe" is put in another holding pen. Bob Viddick (Gerard Butler), a famed assassin, makes his presence and intentions known. As the prey and hunted square off merely feet apart behind cages, Valerie tries to put together the pieces of her prisoner's mysterious puzzle. Unfortunately for everyone breathing, another dangerous player slithers into the station. The merciless Anthony Lamb (Toby Huss) has also come to collect Teddy's contract.

Copshop keeps you guessing until a final act that takes a predictable turn. It's a crapshoot who can be trusted to a certain point. Valerie, played superbly by Alexis Louder, has to make life and death decisions surrounded by criminals. Joe Carnahan (Narc, The A-Team), who also co-wrote the script, is an undisputed master of the action genre. He knows how to shoot bullets and beatdowns. But it's the complexity of his characters that always intrigues. The antagonists are varying levels of despicable. It's a hoot to see which baddie, if any, has a shred of decency.

Gerard Butler and Frank Grillo, sporting a man-bun no less, chew up the screen with their pulp, cat and mouse theatrics. They have a similar presence that Joe Carnahan wisely ebbs and flows. Neither actor outdoes the other. Butler's "Bob Viddick" is clearly the most capable killer. But Grillo's "Teddy" is a devious strategist that claws his way out of a corner by any means necessary. Toby Huss nearly steals the show with dark humor. He packs in barbed one-liners with a serious body count. There are no weak performances here. Every actor nails their characters.

I enjoyed Copshop tremendously, but have a couple of editing complaints. There's a lull between the second and third acts that sabotages the pacing. Your eyeballs are glued to the narrative for most of the runtime, the film slows down, and never reaches that brisk level again. This is also where intentions become clear and the action rote. Copshop runs out of steam, but is a helluva ride for ninety solid minutes. Copshop is a production of Sculptor Media, Zero Gravity Management, and G-BASE. It will be released theatrically by Open Road Films on September 17th.

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