Review: Cop Car is a clever film noir from director Jon Watts

Great news, everyone! Jon Watts is directing the new Spider-Man film (you know, the one that Marvel and Sony are co-producing and which will bring Spidey into the Marvel Cinematic Universe).

Hold on, what’s that you say? Who the heck is Jon Watts?

Hey, no judgment over here. I didn’t know who he was either until I had the chance to watch Cop Car, his debut film which has been making the rounds, and that will be showing at The Royal in Toronto later this month.

In Cop Car, two young boys (James Freedson-Jackson and Hays Wellford) have run away from home, and discover a empty cop car in a forested area. The two manage to break in and take off on an adventure. Little do they know that the car actually belongs to the local Sheriff (Kevin Bacon), who was busy burying a body not far from where the car had been parked. From their, the hunt is on to retrieve the car and what’s locked in the truck.


Both Bacon and director Watt have called Cop Car a B-movie, but a high quality one that respects the audience. In many ways, it’s a throwback film noir along the lines of The Grifters or U Turn. There are few redeeming characters, but as an audience you’re still invested in seeing how their story plays out. The young actors that the film leans upon both deliver solid performances, while Bacon, with the help of a mustache and an southern accent, easily transforms himself to an entertaining bad guy.

Cop Car is very much a story driven film, and one that director (and co-writer) Watts wonderfully delivers. What’s amazing is that the folks at Marvel/Sony are able to see the potential he’s going to bring to the table as the director of a large franchise, one that will certainly have all eyes upon it. It’s probably safe to assume that, under the auspices and watchful eye of Kevin Fiege and Amy Pascal, Watts won’t implode with the weight of the comic book world on his shoulders, unlike fellow indie director Josh Trank, who allegedly crashed and burned during filming of Fantastic Four.

Cop Car is a relatively small film by most standards, but it’s also a devilishly entertaining joyride, well worth taking before Jon Watts unleashes upon the world the next iteration of our favourite wall-crawler.

Cop Car screens at Toronto’s The Royal Cinema beginning Friday, August 28th.

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