From Peter Debruge’s 1.31.15 Sundance review: “Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea for Kevin Bacon’s corrupt small-town sheriff to leave the keys inside his unlocked patrol car. And maybe he should have thought twice before tossing his gunbelt in the backseat and stuffing a beaten-and-bound criminal in the trunk. But all those bad decisions make for B-movie gold in Jon Watts’ Cop Car (Focus World, 8.7), a tight, easily marketable genre exercise that pushes its lean premise and all-around disrespect for authority to entertaining extremes, taking wicked delight in imagining what might happen if two 10-year-olds were to stumble upon an abandoned police cruiser and take it for a joyride.
“By keeping things simple, Watts is free to exploit the moment-to-moment tension without the baggage of character and context. Shot in crisp, atmospheric widescreen, Cop Car is just the sort of stripped-down exercise, like Rodrigo Cortes’ Buried or the Coen brothers’ Blood Simple that presents vaguely sadistic, dark-humored helmers with an opportunity to showcase their technique. For a second-time director, Watts demonstrates masterful control, pushing right up against the limits of what we can take (even non-parents will be rattled watching the boys mishandling loaded weapons), and yet, at every turn, Watts and Christopher Ford‘s screenplay falls short of the picture’s full potential, missing opportunities that could have made this a classic.”