Cop Land [1997]

After making a critically acclaimed debut with the low-budget independent drama Heavy, writer-director James Mangold took on this gritty crime drama, which was highly touted as Sylvester Stallone's long-awaited return to a serious dramatic role. With an illustrious cast of costars, including GoodFellas alumni Robert De Niro, Harvey Keitel, and Ray Liotta, Stallone plays Freddy Heflin, the ineffectual sheriff of a New Jersey suburb that a group of corrupt New York cops have turned into their own off-duty criminal empire. Deaf in one ear and desperate to prove his worth, the sheriff takes on the cops with standoffish assistance from an Internal Affairs cop (De Niro), resulting in an explosive climactic showdown. The stellar cast can't be beat, and Stallone is quite good as the overweight cop whose pride is on the line. Mangold's script is wildly uneven, but the film still packs a white-knuckled punch. --Jeff Shannon

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