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Cop Secret ★★★



Director: Hannes Thór Halldórsson

Stars: Audunn Blöndal, Egill Einarsson, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson

Released: London Film Festival 2021

With an Icelandic goalkeeper as director, Cop Secret always sounded as though it would defy conventions. It is undoubtedly a film that will keep audiences laughing with its silliness as a spoof of those action-packed, buddy cop films. Cop Secret does not take itself seriously as it merges several stories into one. However, there are a few surprises that prevent Cop Secret from treading down a formulaic comedic path.

Bússi is the renowned super cop, tough on crime and followed by TV cameras, who blend Robocop and the TV show Cops. He is rough around the edges and seems to have no boundaries in his mission to solve crime which terrifies his partner. Bússi is the polar opposite of the annoyingly smooth ex-model Hördur, who is the out-of-town cop.  For some reason, in buddy cop convention à la Lethal Weapon and Bad Boys, it always seems like a good idea to partner up rival cops and therefore, Bússi and Hördur are a match made in heaven, in more ways than one, as they seek to preserve their respective ‘super cop’ titles and thwart a villain’s plan to hilarious effect.

Cop Secret breathes new life into the police farce genre as not only does its director provide clues of his sporting background, with references to the Iceland v England game, but there are also questions regarding identity and sexuality which are confronted. Hannes Thór Halldórsson provides that opportunity for his actors to perform beyond a comedic script with more nuance. Such a decision does, at times, mean that Cop Secret feels bloated as it attempts to tackle more substantial elements within the confines of a spoof and therefore falls flat on occasion.

However, Cop Secret’s blend of slow-motion, action-packed chase sequences alongside the typical high-octane warehouse shootouts à la Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire is exciting to watch. Indeed, it is a film that will entertain many as it straddles genres and its characters are unafraid to mock their own action man status and even reference similarities to the one-man action cop in Die Hard.

The level of introspection and relationship analysis that some of the characters are privy to is an unexpected feature as Cop Secret convinces that it is merely a superficial film. It is, therefore, a richer film for the inclusion of these aspects alongside the customary explosions. As usual, the villain’s motivations are not fleshed out, but this also adds to its humour, especially when encountering a code-switching villain prone to speaking English at unusual moments. But, he has the customary deep voice, which seems reminiscent of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises with a similarly dressed group of henchmen and world destruction plan. However, the film’s decision to subscribe to the trope that being a villain includes having a type of disfigurement that may offend some and could have been an aspect that the film addressed given its self-awareness in highlighting clichés within similar police-based films.

Overall, for a directorial debut, the editing choices are impressive, with several quick edits, slow motion, and overhead shots to create that immersion within the Bússi-Hördur dynamics. As such, Cop Secret never plods along as it continually provides twists and turns and entertains and is an enthralling watch as a result that will provoke laugh out loud moments.

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