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Updated on July 14, 2011
The good, the bad and the cheesy – these memorable law enforcement themed cinematic gems have all the cornerstones of the basic cop flick. You know, explosions, spectacular chase scenes and roughing up a bad guy or two. Throw in a terrorist with a thick, barely discernable accent for good measure.
All kidding aside, who doesn’t love an action-packed hour and a half dedicated to police officers? Surely at least a small amount of today’s finest first realized their destiny to protect and serve while watching the top tactical movies of their respective times.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a homicide.” Seven is one of those mid-1990s thrillers that successfully combined elements of horror and film noir. Detectives William R. Somerset and David Mills investigate a series of murders that revolve around the seven deadly sins. The creepy factor is high with this one, so it might not be for everyone.
“How much money did you give that guy? A wiseguy never pays for his drinks.” You must be thinking, “Another Johnny Depp movie, c’mon?” Before he was Capt’n Jack Sparrow, he was Joseph D. Pistone aka Donnie Brasco, an undercover FBI agent deeply embedded in one of New York’s influential mafia families. Mostly well-received by film critics and audience members alike, the film depicts the real-life story of Agent Pistone and the sacrifices he made to put the mobsters behind bars.
“That’s the Chicago way.” The Untouchables is set during the 1920s and early 1930s, otherwise known as the Prohibition Era. Another movie based on actual events, it focuses on government Agent Eliot Ness’ mission to bring down gangster Al Capone. As in every good mobster/gangster film, the plot is twisty and the acting is superb. If you haven’t had the chance to watch this classic, go to Netflix. Surely your friends won’t notice it has taken you 24 years to view it.
“Happy trails, Hans.” Beginning in 1988, Detective John McClane starts fighting the terrorist scourge of the world. Each entertaining in its own rite, the four Die Hard movies has spanned nearly 20 years. Arguments about which one is the best have undoubtedly tested the strength of male (and some female) friendships throughout the world, but who could pick between McClane of yesteryear and today? Yes, this is a mild form of cheating but it would seem impossible to choose just one.
“Your move creep.” Serve the public trust. Protect the innocent. Uphold the law. RoboCop maintains the peace by adhering to these three simple directives. Singlehandedly bringing Detroit’s criminal underbelly to its knees, he seemed unstoppable until a hidden command disabled the metal leo. A bit more science fiction than crime, RoboCop has been viewed by millions over the past 20 or so years.
“Hey you! Haircut! Where are you goin’?” The French Connection has a number of endearing qualities, including stakeouts, drug smuggling, violence, cursing, shootings… the 1971 crime drama has a special place in the hearts of many. Complexity at its best, it may not be as action-packed (explosions) as some of the more recent movies, but is a classic nonetheless.
“Oh, great. You get the girl, I get the coroner.” L.A. Confidential centers on a group of LAPD officers during the 1950s. With a plot riddled with corruption, Hollywood celebrity and Danny DeVito, the film received rave reviews. Don’t expect too much in the way of explosions and car chases, this is much more of a detective/thriller type movie.
“…you’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?” Quite possibly the most beloved cinematic gem among crime movie lovers, Dirty Harry follows Inspector Harry Callahan around as he hunts down a serial killer. He also stops a bank robbery while eating a hot dog, which is pretty cool. Politically correct this film is not. Actually, now that we think about it none of these are. Whatever. “Go ahead, make my day.”
“Ever fired your gun in the air and yelled, ‘Aaaaaaah?’ Simon Pegg is the man, yet Dirty Harry he is not. In this supremely outrageous British film, he’s a hot shot city cop who gets transferred to a small village in the middle of nowhere. His crime? Being too darned good at his job. However, he soon realizes the town’s obscenely high “accident” rate may not be what it appears.
“Mahoney! Remember, that nobody screws with me.” What can we say about Police Academy? Inappropriate jokes, crude references, slapstick humor… we’re pretty sure that real police academies are nothing like this. The class full of misfit recruits does their best to prove themselves capable of being police officers with a little success at the end. Meh.
“I’m a cop you idiot!” So Kindergarten Cop is a bit more tame than, well, anything else on the list. But we thought we should put a family-friendly option in with the f-bombers and super violence associated with this particular blog post. Also, you have to admit Arnold playing a cop posing as a kindergarten teacher is pretty amusing.
“I’m going to pistol whip the next guy who says shenanigans.” Super Troopers may not be a refined comedy. Some might not even consider the movie worthy of the genre. Others could be downright offended by it. If you’re a guy (or a really open-minded lady) you most likely have this DVD in your collection. You probably fished it out of the $5 bin at Wal-Mart, but hey it still counts.
“Don’t eat the car! Not the car! Oh, what am I yelling at you for? You’re a dog!” Ok. We feel really guilty about the last movie, so here’s another flick for the whole crew. Turner & Hooch stars Tom Hanks as an investigator whose only witness to a murder is a dog. It’s pretty humorous but keep in mind the PG kind of funny.
There are a million cop/tactical movies out there… which are your favorites and why?