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Film / Cop Car

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"Boys, I know you can hear me. You are in a whole lot of trouble."
Sheriff Kretzer

Cop Car is a 2015 thriller directed and co-written by Jon Watts.

Two young boys, Harrison and Travis, have run away into the wilderness when they come across an abandoned, unlocked police cruiser and decide to take it out for a joy ride. Unfortunately, the car's owner, the thoroughly corrupt Sheriff Kretzer (Kevin Bacon), really needs it back. And he certainly doesn't want anyone to find out what's in the trunk...



  • Adult Fear: The boys' respective guardians do not know their wards have runaway from home and are at the mercy of some dangerous criminals. And that one is bleeding profusely and might die.
  • All There in the Manual: The name of the driving lady, Bev, is only given in the credits and not actually mentioned in the film.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: To get Harrison and Travis to comply, the guy in the trunk threatens, in vivid detail, to first kill their pets and then their loved ones.
  • Asshole Victim: The sheriff and the man in the trunk, both murderous scumbags who threaten children, are dead by the end.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Sheriff Kretzer. His conversations with the dispatch officer suggest that he is well-liked by his staff and he is polite to everyone he meets, but underneath the facade he is a profoundly dirty cop.
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  • Boom, Headshot!: Bev is killed by the man in the trunk this way.
  • Break the Cutie: At the beginning, the boys are mischievous but still the typical happy and naive kids they are but the emotional toll they have at being threatened by the man in the trunk and the sheriff, witness the murder of Bev, being caught in a violent crossfire, and Travis being shot took an emotional toll on them.
  • Bulletproof Vest: While playing around with the Sheriff's guns, Harrison and Travis try to see if the body armor they find is really bulletproof by having Harrison wear it and Travis try to shoot it. Thankfully, he fails to fire the gun.
  • The Cameo: You may not recognize it, but the voice of the dispatch officer, Miranda, is done by Kyra Sedgwick.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Early on, Harrison establishes that he can hide things in his jacket's inner pocket. Later, he hides a pistol on his jacket, Later still, he makes use of it.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Bev, who reappears during the climax and plays an instrumental part in the shootout between the sheriff and the guy in the trunk.
  • Dirty Cop: Sheriff Kretzer, whose crimes seem to include drug dealing and murder.
  • Disappeared Dad: Whenever asked about his parents, Travis specifically points out he lives with his mother and stepfather, with the status of his biological father being unknown.
  • Disposing of a Body: In his first scene, the sheriff is getting rid of two bodies by dumping them in a pit in the ground and adding quicklime.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Harrison swears almost as much as Travis but hesitates at saying "fuck", believing it's the worst kind of swear.
  • Free-Range Children: Harrison and Travis, who spend the film wandering around in the wilderness and driving the cop car, have run away from home.
  • The Ghost: The boys' respective guardians are only mentioned never seen or heard of.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat: Harrison and Travis think they're qualified to drive a car because they've played Mario Kart.
  • Innocent Bystander: Bev, during the shootout.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • The man in the trunk taking the boys hostage despite them freeing him and then threatening the lives of their loved ones.
    • The sheriff using Bev's life to find out where the man in the trunk is.
  • MacGyvering: In one scene, the sheriff manages to unlock a car through the window by tying his bootlace into a little noose and pulling up the car's doorlock.
  • Minimalism: The film has no exposition, and everything is presented in a simple and stripped down style, letting the audience figure it out.
  • No Ending: Travis has been shot in the stomach by a ricocheting bullet and Harrison is driving as fast as he can to get him to a hospital. The dispatcher attempts to contact the car, Harrison responds, and the film cuts to credits.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The boys decides to free the man in the trunk and the latter then forces them to help him.
  • No Name Given: The guy in the trunk is never named, not in the film or in the credits. Sheriff Kretzer himself is only named by an old campaign poster seen in his home.
  • Punctuated Pounding: "You don't. Steal. A FUCKING. COP CAR!"
  • Raised by Grandparents: Harrison is taken care of by his grandfather.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Harrison and Travis spend some time playing with the guns and equipment they find in the cop car. Luckily, the guns all have their safeties on, preventing them from actually firing them.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Harrison (Blue) is noticeably more cautious and less confident than Travis (Red), who is the biggest drive of the ride. Harrison wears a blue jacket, while Travis's clothing tones are warmer.
  • The Runaway: Harrison and Travis are implied to be running away from home. The opening scene consists of them rationing their food (a single Slim Jim) and talking about making it to the forest.
  • The Sheriff: Kretzer.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Travis, who uses some profanity throughout the film. During the opening scene, he says a bunch of dirty words and gets Harrison to repeat them.
  • Spanner in the Works: Travis and Harrison, completely unintentionally, screw up the sheriff's plan to dispose of two bodies by stealing his parked police car.
  • Steel Ear Drums: Averted. When Harrison and Travis finally get a shot off, they immediately regret it and complain of ear pain.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: If hadn't been for the boys, the man in the trunk would've been murdered by the sheriff or died in the trunk. How does he repay their kindness? Hold them hostage and use them in his revenge plan.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Bev, who sees Harrison and Travis on the road. While she means well, it is her report of them driving the car that leads the Sheriff to them. Also, during the climax of the film, she gets the man in the trunk to reveal his position while under the impression that she is helping the sheriff.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The sheriff uses Bev to find out the exact location of the man in the trunk.
  • The Voice: Miranda, the dispatch officer, is frequently heard on the sheriff's phone, but never seen.
  • Would Hit a Girl: The man in the trunk shoots Bev in the head.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Sheriff Kretzer and the man in the trunk have no problem in threatening to harm or actually attempting to kill the boys.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: During the climax, the sheriff pretends to be injured for Bev to get her to go looking for some car keys that were supposedly thrown away to use Bev for exposing the man in the trunk's position.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Sheriff Kretzer is surprisingly good at making up plans on the fly and getting out of sticky situations relying mostly on his wits and his authority as Sheriff. In one scene, he gets pulled over driving a stolen car and gets away by making a fake report of a robber in the area on his cell phone so the motorcycle cop will focus on that and let him go.

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