Plot: Michael (Michael Jai White) is a dedicated police officer who works as a hostage negotiator, but a recent situation that went south left him shaken, not to mention less reliable in the eyes of his peers. But after a break, he has returned to duty is determined to put the past behind him and prove himself once again. Meanwhile, a small crew of criminals has taken control of a bank and while the motive seems obvious at first, soon the leader Jessie (Quinton Jackson) changes up the plan. His fellow crooks try to turn the tables on his power move, only to discover he has planned for such a betrayal, so now they’re stuck helping his new spin on the operation. As Jessie has a bank full of hostages, Michael is soon dispatched to negotiate a safe release, but things get messy fast when it is revealed that Jessie is Michael’s estranged brother. Now a personal, dangerous power struggle unfolds, with numerous lives in the balance, but what is Jessie’s real plan and how far will he go to make his point?
Entertainment Value: Cops and Robbers is marketed like an action movie, but plays out more like a thriller with some light action elements involved. The movie was clearly made with limited resources, but the ambition here is impressive and the end result rises above those limitations. The narrative unreels at a solid pace, with little filler and while familiar in places, Cops and Robbers also manages to pump enough twists and turns in to feel fresh. The tension builds at a nice rate and leads to a satisfying conclusion, so a rock solid effort here. Michael Jai White has a lead role and does well, though he isn’t able to show off his remarkable action movie skills, but he does show that his dramatic chops are more than capable. The other lead is Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, a legend of mixed martial arts who is a little rough around the edges, but is a good fit for the role and holds up his end. Tom Berenger is on hand as a cranky police official, while Victoria Pratt, Randy Wayne, Chuck Zito, and Patrick Kilpatrick have memorable supporting roles. I found this to be a well crafted thriller, with some effective slow burn tactics and a terrific finale. A solid story, good cast, and some fun twists make Cops and Robbers an easy recommendation.
No nakedness. The movie is one long hostage negotiation, so no real time for love pops in this one. A little blood, but not much and it is never graphic, so not enough to rack up a point. While this is a thriller at heart, it does have bursts of action involved, with Jackson smacking around one of the police and some gun based violence. None of this comes off as visceral or graphic however. So just have fun with those brief instances of action, then settle back in for a tight, well woven thriller. The dialogue is fine, but doesn’t have a lot of big, quotable lines. Jackson is fun to watch as he barks insults and sounds off, while Kilpatrick has a vile, mean spirited racist rant at one point. I wish Berenger was a little more over the top, as his role seems ideal for some big, flashy set pieces, but no such luck here. The tone here is serious and the movie keeps things mostly grounded, so no real craziness to talk about.
Overall Insanity: 0/10