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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Cop Land': A Hard-Hitting Crime Thriller About a Suburban Sheriff Immersed in Police Corruption

Movie poster for Cop Land

Cop Land (1997) is gritty urban thriller starring Sylvester Stallone as Freddy Heflin, Sheriff of the fictitious town of Garrison, New Jersey—situated just across the river from New York City. Kindly and partially deaf, Freddy maintains order in his community despite the presence of a cadre of corrupt off-duty NYPD officers.

Exploiting loopholes in NYPD regulations, ringleaders Lt. Ray Donlan (Harvey Keitel) and Det. Leo Crasky (John Spencer) dodge internal affairs while immersing their crew in drug trafficking and mob-related activities. Their fortunes turn after young officer Murray "Superboy" Babitch (Michael Rapaport) is involved in a deadly shooting, drawing the attention of IA investigator Lt. Moe Tilden (Robert De Niro). Tilden hones in on Heflin as his best source for information and evidence, leaving Heflin torn between loyalty to his community and his duty to uphold the law.

Written and directed by James Mangold (Walk the Line, Ford v Ferrari), Cop Land is a roundly suspenseful crime drama that delves into the intricacies of loyalty, justice and institutional corruption. Stallone subverts expectations while delivering an unexpected dose of naiveté and vulnerability to the screen, constituting one of the finest performances of his career. Edgy, volatile and teeming with richly imagined characters, Cop Land offers a multifaceted exploration of morality within the context of community and authority.


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