Film Review: Cop Secret – London Film Festival 2021

Reviewer: Maryam Philpott

Writer: Hannes Þór Halldórsson, Nína Pedersen and Sverrir Þór Sverrisson

Director: Hannes Þór Halldórsson

The London Film Festival is off to a flying start and nowhere more so than with Icelandic treat Cop Secret, a hilarious spoof that takes the Hollywood template for the maverick cop movie and turns it into a rollicking 95-minute comedy adventure. Footballer Hannes Þór Halldórsson makes his directing debut with this hilarious film that smartly sends-up the genre while paying homage to it in a story of rival cops, megalomaniac bank robbers and hard-boiled detection that throws up a few surprises of its own.

Bússi is the toughest cop in Reykjavik but he’s not a man who plays by the rules, terrorising suspects, disrespecting his partner and violating health and safety regulations wherever possible. When a spate of bank break-ins force him to team up with arch rival Hörður from the neighbouring district, a model detective in more ways than one, Bússi discovers that being a lone wolf is no longer what he needs.

There is much joy in Halldórsson’s movie, as it plays with the cliches of cops and robbers including big set pieces, standoffs and a lead who doesn’t accept authority. But Halldórsson looks to subvert where he can, so rethinking the tradition sports match conclusion, the story instead puts a decisive women’s international centre stage generating the same buzz as their male counterparts would, adds a tough female boss and technical geniuses who take no nonsense as well as some nervous henchmen perplexed by the evil criminal mastermind.

Halldórsson’s greatest contribution is to utilise and re-route the homoerotic tension of these movies to create a sweet love story that adds some pep to the finale action sequences with a Mr and Mrs Smith vibe that brilliantly offers a 2021 slant as well as an opportunity for character development that, in true action move style, leaves our protagonist in a different, happier place than when he started,

Auðunn Blöndal is great as Bússi drawing out the American anti-hero comparison in creating his disaffected detective and playing it relatively straight to enhance the humour. That his characterisation reveals itself as the case takes shape is credibly managed by Blöndal who develops great antagonist chemistry with rival Hörður played by Egill Einarsson whose spot-on performance is the epitome of manly and police perfection. Smooth and sophisticated where Bússi is rough and detached, Hörður is given depth by a subplot with a brother to protect.

It’s easy to imagine a British remake with a deadpan Jason Statham in the lead and Halldórsson’s movie hits that perfect spot between celebrating and poking fun at a genre while finding a new direction. Most importantly Cop Secret is just a happy film and one that, at the very beginning of the London Film Festival, is already a highlight.

Cop Secret is screening at the London Film Festival.

The Reviews Hub Score

An Icelandic treat

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The Reviews Hub Film Team is under the editorship of Maryam Philpott.

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