Let’s Be Cops Review – Bullets, Badges, & Bromances


Director: Luke Greenfield

Writers: Luke Greenfield, Nicholas Thomas

Stars: Jake Johnson, Damon Wayans, Jr., Nina Dobrev, Rob Riggle


Release Date: August 27th, 2014

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Country: USA

Running time: 104 minutes


 

3/5

Best part: Johnson and Wayans, Jr.’s chemistry.

Worst part: The banal gross-out gags.

Over a short period, TV  has surpassed film as the go-to form of entertainment. With A-listers including Kevin Spacey and Matthew McConaughey jumping ship, the small screen is developing increasingly more ambitious projects featuring our favourite performers. So, who are the actors jumping from TV to film? Nowadays, this responsibility rests with sitcom stars of varying ages and talents. With Let’s Be Cops, two New Girl leads hurriedly leaped formats. Despite the movie’s flaws, their involvement saves it from being wholly mediocre.

Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. leaving their New Girl comrades behind.

Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans, Jr. leaving their New Girl comrades behind.

Obviously, Director Luke Greenfield (The Girl Next Door) didn’t have to do much to win over New Girl fans or buddy-cop aficionados. Sadly, despite the cast and crew’s hard work, Let’s Be Cops might be overshadowed by recent real-life atrocities. With the Ferguson, Missouri issue concerning the US Government, varying authoritative bodies, and the country’s citizens, this movie’s outlandish premise comes off as tasteless and desperate. With news media calling America’s police practices into question, this action-comedy’s tactless approach may rub some groups the wrong way. So, should we blame this production for trying to have fun? The cast and crew, completing everything before this atrocity took place, deserve a fair assessment. So, with that in mind, does this buddy-cop farce stand up to scrutiny? Definitive answer: yes and no. Unsurprisingly, the story never delves past the title. Former football hopeful Ryan O’Malley (Jake Johnson) and submissive video game designer Justin Miller (Damon Wayans, Jr.) are unsuccessful, thirty-something man-children struggling to face reality. Bafflingly, after an embarrassing college reunion mishap, their elaborate police costumes are far more convincing than expected. Strutting through LA, the immediate acclaim gives them a blissful adrenaline rush. Convinced of this newfound ‘life purpose’, Ryan, ignoring Justin’s concerns, becomes addicted to the gun and badge. Buying a patrol vehicle off eBay, Ryan continually pulls Justin into trouble.

Nina Dobrev as Josie.

Nina Dobrev as Josie.

From the first patrol scene onward, several disturbing plot elements distort Let’s Be Cops’ light-hearted narrative. Obviously, Ryan and Justin’s actions serve to abuse police power. In fact, impersonating a police officer offers up significant prison time and fines. Therefore, with said penalties on the line, the narrative needed to be interesting enough to distract the average filmgoer from reality. Sadly, despite being an enjoyable buddy-actioner, these plot gripes hover above the audience throughout its 102-minute run-time. The story relies on two opposing viewpoints to keep the comedy and drama in line. From the get-go, the odd-couple relationship is hammered across our heads. With Ryan’s oppressive attitude clashing with Justin’s do-gooder personality, this central relationship brings up major questions. In addition, as it transitions from intriguing dramedy to goofy buddy-cop flick, their back-and-fourths become tiresome and dumbfounding. Though Johnson’s character is given suitable, albeit disastrously idiotic, motivations, Wayans, Jr.’s role becomes a series of alliance switches and reluctant decisions. Despite Justin’s desire to become a stronger person, the movie makes him the butt of almost every joke. Failing to get his video game idea, ‘Patrolman’, off the ground, the movie’s mean-streak occasionally weights down this breezy, laugh-fuelled romp. Despite this inconsistent bromance, Johnson and Wayans, jr.’s snappy New Girl dynamic boosts this simplistic venture.

“I feel like Danny Glover before he got too old for this sh*t.” (Justin Miller (Damon Wayans, Jr.), Let’s Be Cops).

Keenan Michael Key without Jordan Peele.

Keegan-Michael Key without Jordan Peele.

Despite the exhaustive improv. sequences, Johnson and Wayans, jr. enliven their stock-standard characters. In this and Safety Not Guaranteed, Johnson proves himself an adventurous and efficient leading man. Conquering the slacker archetype, his likeable presence rescues his conventional character arc. In addition, Wayans, Jr. – stepping out of his family’s shadow – delivers enough charisma and levity when required. Along the way, his comic timing and slapstick gags deliver several laugh-out-loud moments. Meanwhile, Rob Riggle delivers some worthwhile jabs as an enthusiastic yet gullible lawman. Undoubtedly, Let’s Be Cops was designed specifically for our two sitcom-bred stars. Sadly, thanks to hit-and-miss humour, the movie becomes a 21/22 Jump Street rip-off. Despite the potential, its gross-out gags merely degrade certain action beats. The underlying cop-mobster storyline – revolving around Russian mob boss Massi Kasic(James D’Arcy)’s threats against cute waitress Josie (Nina Dobrev) – never sparks any excitement. In fact, this sub-plot exists simply to deliver action, Andy Garcia in another villain role, and D’Arcy’s convincing Ethan Hawke impersonation. Shifting around this sub-plot, the movie’s half-processed skits reek of desperation. Some scenes – featuring our leads strutting into nightclubs, flirting with drunk chicks, and forcing innocent people into uncomfortable situations – add nothing to the story.

Let’s Be Cops – despite the lazy premise and production’s laid-back attitude – overcame several obstacles before hitting the box office. Hindered by a major socio-political scandal, a poor release date, and a derivative marketing campaign (seriously, the image of police partners screaming has been used a million times!), it’s a miracle this buddy-cop flick is even watchable. In addition, Johnson and Wayans, jr. deliver more big laughs than expected. Thanks to their flawless dynamic, these two pull off the uniforms with ease.

Verdict: A charming yet lazy action-comedy.

L.A. Noire Review – Cops, Criminals & Controllers


Genres: Third person shooter, Open world, Action-adventure

Companies: Rockstar, Team Bondi, Take-Two Interactive

Platforms: PS3, X-Box 360, PC

4½/5


Release date: May 17th, 2011

Mode: single player


 

The never-ending Grand Theft Auto series has taken the world by storm. Whether it’s the guiltless thrills of drifting through an open Pro-America universe or the weird giggle had with killing prostitutes with a muscle car, Rockstar have found their winning formula. So if something isn’t broken than why try to fix it?

Instead of tampering with already golden property, they have duplicated their delectable game development style to fit other genres. Along with the rollicking thrills already had with Red Dead Redemption, L.A. Noire continues their successes. A controversial premise to be sure- bringing life back to an ageing film genre while using film technology to create a cinematic interactive landscape. I am however happy to report that noir has never been this dark. It turns out gamers and cinephiles can interact every once in a while. Yipee!

Checking off the film noir tropes.

This cinematic adventure through L.A. streets is a gorgeous yet stifling way of connecting to a classier time. The story is about as comical and generic as 1950s detective thrillers come. Breaking it down; a rebellious cop named Cole Phelps, his numerous police partners and the scum of L.A. walk into a bar. Well actually…they walk in and out of several. This interchanging labyrinth of criminals and cowboys clashes whenever Phelps is on the scene. You already know this type of law-man; war veteran, smart pinstripe suit, trigger finger and a nasty scowl smudged into his face.

Speaking of faces, L.A. Noire has broken more ground than just L.A’s street scape.  Rockstar and Australian company Team Bondi have used 1950s archival footage and snapshots to create a truly authentic recreation of the City of Angels. Aerial photos capture a city kept inside many rectangular windows throughout history. The result stands alongside Rockstar’s similarly detailed universes. San Andreas and the american plains look conventional next to L.A. Noire‘s labyrinth of stark colours and outrageous panoramas. Its use of motion capture technology is also a positive. Having already stretched the bonds of film technology, L.A. Noire‘s characters deliver a startling level of immersion. Each face is rendered to perfection, with each wrinkle and facial expression adding to the already energetic experience.

One of many horrific crime scenes.

But what about the gameplay itself. Well, Rockstar’s open world formula has once again proven to be successful. Along with GTA and Read Dead‘s anti-hero lead characters, Phelps is yet another gun toting relic. Playing him is a treat, however, as this bad cop continually ignores the good cops and steals the spotlight. The aforementioned facial constructions look top-notch during the difficult interrogation sequences. CSI, eat your heart out  – the gamer is now in control! In each chat with members of L.A’s criminal circus, three choices- truth, doubt and lie- can be picked to analyse a crook’s answer. Get this right- you’re top cop. Get them wrong, however, you risk becoming the police station idiot. These difficult interrogations are still better than the car controls. Sure, the chases move well. But its hard to manoeuvre cars that handle like school-buses.

L.A. Noire is best served to a true media nut. With many references to films such as The Untouchables, Chinatown and L.A. Confidential, they can enjoy how one medium has cooperated with another to create one hell of a game. Just imagine what could come next. Goodfellas as a first person shooter, perhaps?

Verdict: The ultimate film noir experience!