The moment I realized what Cop Out was as a film was in the introductory scene where Tracy Morgan just riffed off a bunch of notable movie lines with a suspect whom he was supposedly trying to interrogate. Normally, movie references within movies can feel a little strange, but here it's done to a strange excess. It’s a pastiche of other notable film lines into a scene that doesn’t quite work, kind of like Cop Out itself is a pastiche of other notable films that just doesn’t quite work and fails to engage at all. Worse yet, there is a reference to Die Hard and a very awkward cut to Bruce Willis saying that he’s never heard of the movie.
Both a strength and fault of Cop Out is the amount of exposition, or rather, the lack thereof. Two minutes in, the script writers just take for granted that we care about the characters and then we are off and running. The rest of the movie is like that, boring sequences from a contrived story set up that don’t quite go together well and fail to hold the viewer’s (at least my) expectations. I’d pause the movie every ten minutes – to check Twitter, to make myself something to eat, to make a call, to play a quick game of Canabalt on my phone.
The movie is mildly pleasant in spots, but is just held down by being so derivative and a failure to make us care for any of the characters. The chuckles are few and far between (though I did genuinely laugh at the way the, ahem, ‘villain’ was eliminated), and the movie on the whole just feels awkward to watch because of its lack of anything notable, let alone anything done particularly well. It’s by no means strangle-the-filmmakers bad, but it’s very close and entirely boring to boot. And that’s the worse.