Who would win in a fight? The conman, the hitman, or the rookie cop?

This year alone, director Joe Carnahan and Frank Grillo have both collaborated on two films: the time warp action thriller “Boss Level” and the Gerard Butler-costarring thriller “Copshop.” And both these movies are fun on their own terms, which rely on the same gimmicks mixed with some likable characters, and lots of guns, as if these characters have nothing left to lose.

Obviously, I can’t give this movie four stars, because the story is barely understandable, but I can give it a pass for being a B-movie. Matter of fact, I had that same reaction with another B-movie from two weeks ago called “The Gateway,” which also starred Grillo.

Grillo plays a con artist Teddy Muretto, who gets shot, and has to strike a rookie cop (Alexis Louder from “The Tomorrow War”) in order to land himself in a small jail in the Nevada desert. He’s on the run from the professional hitman Bob Viddick (Butler), who pretends to be a drunk driver and nearly strikes some state troopers in order to land himself in that jail, too. The only one standing in the hitman’s way is the that same rookie cop named Valerie Young, who wants to know what their deal is, and let me tell you: this girl is persistent.

Then, comes mobster Anthony Lamb (Toby Huss), who makes his way into the station to get his revenge on Teddy, who stole money from him. And also inside lies a dirty cop named Huber (Ryan O’Nan), who steals some drugs from the evidence locker room in order to pay someone back. I think it’s funny when Huber struggles to use a sledgehammer to break through a wall and when Anthony would rather be called Tony. Sure, their defeats send almost like a fly swat, but at least their chemistry is better than Vince Vaughn and Paul Walter Hauser in “Queenpins.”

This is when the con artist, the hitman, and the rookie cop must take some action against the bad guys and then each other. Which raises the question: who would win in a fight? The conman, the hitman, or the rookie cop?

You have to have some balls in order to leave two lines of gas in the basement of the police station in order to set it on fire or use a gun to kill someone in their cell before the main shootout begins. Carnahan presents those scenes with style, and he also casts Butler, Grillo, and Louder with some charisma and attitude. How they interact with each other gives us a Tarantino feel, and they’re all fun.

I was skeptical about how I would view the movie, when I saw the trailer, because certain action movies tend to either lose your interests, go too far, or don’t do anything original. “Copshop” is not an original film, but on the other hand, it’s neither dumb nor boring. And plus, the title does sound cool if you use it in the right sense.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

In Theaters This Friday

Categories: Action, Thriller

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