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The Card Counter and Copshop Blu-ray Reviews

“The Card Counter” is a frustrating Paul Schrader film.

“Copshop” is pure Joe Carnahan.

Hot off the fantastic “First Reformed,” writer/director Paul Schrader returns to the world of cinema with 2021’s “The Card Counter.” ‘Card’ revolves around the character of William who is a poker player that previously worked as a military prison interrogator at Abu Ghraib. William clearly has some demons and is generally a loner who is constantly on the go from city to city. William manages to connect with 2 individuals on his travel with La Linda (a gambling investor whom he develops a romance with) and Cirk (a young man who wants vengeance against a retired Major that is partially responsible for his ruined family and his father’s suicide). Cirk (who is also in debt) joins William on his gambling tour. William wants to help the youngster out so that he won’t go down a dark path, but can he stop him?

The sum of the talent should equal a better movie here with “The Card Counter.” The Schrader film has so much going for it on the surface. It’s a deep thematic story about past trauma, violence, the past, self punishment, consequences of actions, redemption, revenge, and connections. It’s produced by Martin Scorsese and contains a fantastic cast with Oscar Isaac, Willem Dafoe, Tye Sheridan and Tiffany Haddish (I’ll get to the cast shortly). William’s character arc is compelling as is the exploration of 2 high pressure worlds with gambling and a military prison. So what went wrong? Simply put, Schrader doesn’t deal a winning hand. The story lacks a middle act (unless you count William and Cirk wandering about). All the most enticing elements happen off screen. I understand wanting to leave certain things to the imagination but not at the expense of storytelling. Comedic actress Tiffany Haddish really struggles in her first dramatic role. She tries her best, but she’s woefully miscast and outclassed by the rest of the cast. And then there’s the dreadful score by Robert Levon Been and Giancarlo Vulcano which sounds like somebody is sighing (I kid you not).

On the plus side, the rest of the cast does help the material tremendously. Oscar Isaac further showcases his acting skills here. He can be a lead, he can do comedy, and he can do hard hitting drama. Willem Dafoe has a small but memorable role while the underrated and versatile Tye Sheridan continues to shine.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.66:1 1080p. How does it look? The stylish cinematography shines in hi-def.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The 5.1 track does the job.

The only extras are a Digital copy and a brief 5 minute featurette titled “A High-Stakes World” featuring film clips, interviews with Schrader, Isaac, John Stapleton (Poker Consultant) and Haddish, story and character discussions. 

With “Copshop,” director/writer Joe Carnahan goes back to doing what he does best (alongside co-writer Kurt McLeod). By that I mean create an action-thriller movie with twists and turns, a comedic edge and a whole lotta bloody violence.

In “Copshop,” the story begins with a con artist (Teddy) running for his life. He becomes so desperate that punches a rookie cop (Valerie) just so he can get thrown in a police station jail to avoid hitmen. Alas, a hitman (Bob) winds up in the same jail as Teddy. To further complicate matters ANOTHER hitman (Anthony) enters the picture shortly thereafter. As if that wasn’t enough, the police station has a traitor in the midst which poses a threat to every single officer. From there on out, a cat-and-mouse game essentially ensues between the criminals and the cops.

If you live for action movies, “Copshop” has you covered. In typical Joe Carnahan fashion, he delivers an intense, no nonsense action movie filled with shootouts, quippy dialogue, quirky characters, and some big plot twists that make you rethink the characters. It’s a simple movie with a few locations and it never pretends to be anything else other than what it is.

Frank Grillo (who seems to be Carnahan’s go to guy lately as he’s appeared in the underrated “Boss Level” and “The Grey”) is one of those actors that automatically makes a movie better with him in it. He’s a consummate professional. Gerard Butler has had plenty of hits and misses, but he’s utilized extremely well here. Carnahan definitely recognizes the actor’s strengths. Alexis Louder impresses as the scene stealing badass Valerie. It’s no surprise that she is fast becoming a rising star in the movie biz.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 2.39:1 1080p. How does it look? The image quality is sharp.

Audio Track: 5.1 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? The audio is nothing short of lively. Every gunfire packs a punch.

Extras:
* DVD copy
* Digital copy

December 10, 2021 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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