In the time I have spent writing for this magazine I have reviewed an array of Canadian films, many of which proudly distinguish themselves as just that, all the while trying to avoid being categorised as American cinema. I can say with confidence, though, that I have seen few as fiercely Canadian as Eric Canuel’s 2006 buddy cop film Bon Cop, Bad Cop, which I recently had the pleasure of watching.
As is normally the case for a film in this genre, the opening illustrates the murderous threat at hand, which on this occasion is a hockey-themed killer who we are led to believe is somehow connected to each of his targets. While the opening seems pretty generic (and to a point it is), from there the film begins to deviate from the buddy cop tradition, first by avoiding the depiction of two totally opposing characters who you just know are eventually going to get along, like in Lethal Weapon and 48 Hrs.
The Quebec-based David Bouchard (Patrick Huard) is a rough-around-the-edges cop who goes by his own authority, while Toronto detective Martin Ward (Colm Feore) is more by-the-books, though both are presented as being naturally flexible in their roles. While on the surface it may seem like your typical case of total opposites attract, these are actually two different personalities who share a common ground in parenthood, as indicated from each of their introductory scenes. The characters are far more alike than they actually think, even by conventional buddy movie standards.
One aspect in particular that cannot be overlooked, though, is the way in which our attentions are drawn to its own similarities with the American action film, from the saturated colour grading to the over-the-top action, only to then pick it apart with the finer details. Canuel and his screenwriters (one of whom is Huard) take the whole buddy cop film concept that many have used before time and again, but instead deliver its own bicultural Canadian twist, which makes for the freshest take I have seen on the genre in a while.
The result is character interplay I never knew I wanted, where the linguistic and cultural differences of the characters are used for dizzyingly snappy back and forth dialogue, while their initial prejudices give way to a friendship that can only put a smile on your face. Add all this to the fact that the film is never afraid to make you laugh when the moment is right, even if said moment involves the discovery of a man impaled on a billboard (you will have to watch the film to figure out how that even works), and you have one hell of a cohesive film, even when the comedy might overstep itself on the rare occasion.
Ultimately, the broad strokes of Bon Cop, Bad Cop might seem influenced by American cinema, but do not be fooled, because it is the little things make this an out-and-out Canadian experience all in its own right.