Alright my lovely Jibamericans, step this way now, and feast your eyes on Bon Cop, Bad Cop, the highest grossing Canadian film of all time … assuming you don’t consider all that pesky inflation talk. Isn’t that right, James Cameron?
Bon Cop opens up on some poor unfortunate schmuck getting tied up and tattooed in a room that looks suspiciously like a set left-over from one of the Saw movies (Pick any one of them; they’re inter-fucking-changeable at this point) while a hockey show plays on in the background. But don’t get to used to it because moments later, poor unfortunate schmuck takes the business end of a hockey stick to the head and winds up draped over the border of Ontario and Quebec.
Now our protagonists come into play: From Ontario, we have Martin Ward, our by the book Anglophone cop (Colm Feore, who apparently went to the Keanu Reeves school of insufferable wooden acting). From Quebec, we have David Bouchard (Patrick Huard), our streetwise, loose cannon Francophone cop, and quite possibly the only redeeming feature of the movie. Sadly, for those hoping for some leeway between these two and the traditional movie cop team, lower your expectations because that’s about as much creativity and characterization as you’re going to get out of this.
Anyway, the two of them manage to tear the corpse of a poor unfortunate schmuck in half, so to punish them, their bosses decide to make them work together, because why not pay two separate police forces to solve a murder that can be solved by one? Your tax dollars at work, Canada.
Of course, this leads into a culture clash as the two of them race to find The Tattoo Killer before he offs yet another hockey-related fucktard, because apparently, everyone in Canada is absolutely OBSSESSED with hockey. And just to shake things up a bit, there are plenty of explosions, kidnappings, bomb threats and other generic cop flick clichés, just in case you get the idea that you are watching an original movie.
Bon Cop, Bad Cop is one of those movies that had excellent potential and a great premise and then proceeded to run it into the ground. It’s a paint-by-numbers in the most generic pastel colours available, which only serves to completely mask the strokes of pure genius that shine through the bland landscape.
One scene in particular that struck me as a prime example of what the movie could have been involved Bouchard lecturing Ward on the finer points of Quebec swearing while stuffing a suspect in the trunk of his car. Maybe it’s the language barrier in play here, but Huard was phenomenal, a fine mix of gleeful sadism, witty repartee, and sympathetic likability. Granted, he’s acting alongside Feore, a man whose performance was so wooden and unstable you could probably buy it at Ikea, but still, Huard was ingenious.
And for those hoping for a thoroughly thought-out and eloquent look at what it means to be either an English Canadian or a French Canadian, you better keep looking. It’s not that it doesn’t at all try to compare and contrast cultures, it just does it with such broad strokes, it borders on crass stereotypes. All anyone seems to care about in this movie is hockey; at one point, one of the big bads goes so far as to dress up as a hockey mascot. Literally. In full fuzzy suit. Is it too much to ask for a definitive look at Canadian heritage that doesn’t just veer off into broad caricatures? It’s just lazy writing is what it is.
In the end, we’re basically promised a sharp discussion of anglo-franco relations lovingly draped over a satire of cop movies. Instead, we’re given a completely average cop movie with vague hints of promise that couldn’t have missed the mark any more if the mark was in another country and they were aiming in the complete opposite direction. Admittedly though, it was pretty entertaining, if a bit overtly formulaic, but whatever. Point is, you could certainly do worse than Bon Cop, Bad Cop, and as an introduction to Canuck Culture 101, it does a decent enough job as long as you don’t expect much in the way of in depth analysis. Just goes to show, Canadians are just as adept as Americans at crapping out by the book cop flicks. Oh Canada, bitches. Vive La Quebec Libre.
You can read more of Jeremy Feist’s work over on the X-rated blog, Notes on a Bar Napkin.
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