Cop Land

You'd think all the familiar faces—Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro—would overwhelm this quiet 1997 thriller, but writer-director James Mangold (Heavy) puts the fine performances of these big-screen heavies in perfect perspective. Stallone—whose character is so exaggerated that his persuasiveness in the role is particularly impressive—plays the sheriff of a town in New Jersey that's entirely fictional in its demographics (as the end credits are careful to explain): it's populated largely by New York City police who've taken advantage of a technicality to live outside the borough they protect. An apparently rash act by a young officer suggests this bucolic bliss may be founded on corruption, and the tightly constructed story contains surprises that make sense, with a minimum of schmaltz. The movie's no roller-coaster ride, but there isn't a boring moment either. 105 min.

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