There’s nothing like cop week to get the dirty taste of dance movies out of your mouth! Thanks Wandering Through the Shelves for sponsoring yet another thoughtful Thursday theme, and for giving me the perfect excuse for subjecting my wife to all the explodey movies she normally turns her cute little nose up at.
Bad Boys: Mike & Marcus (Will Smith & Martin Lawrence) are two “loose cannon” cops, not to mention best friends, who spend so much time together they sound like an old married couple – the kind constantly threatening to get a divorce. But damn if they don’t pull together in times of trouble! Legend has it that this script was originally intended for Jon Lovitz and Dana Carvey – now just imagine that movie for a minute, if you will.
Heat: Bank robbers start to feel “the heat” from cops when their latest robbery turns out to be a little sloppy. Lieutenant Al Pacino is on to them but Robert De Niro needs one last heist before he can retire (isn’t that always the way?). Then of course De Niro makes his fatal mistake – he goes against the golden rule ‘Never have anything in your life that you can’t walk out on in thirty seconds flat, if you spot the heat coming around the corner.’
Die Hard: It’s Die Hard, what else do you have to say? It’s Christmas AND he’s off duty (plus he’s NYPD visiting LA), but John McClane (Bruce Willis) is still a bad-ass motherfucker who will single-handedly END YOU.
I watched a lot of cop movies this week and it turns out that a lot of my favourite jams just happen to have cops in them. Actually, if you look hard enough, probably there’s a cop or two in nearly every movie. There were cops in dance movie Billy Elliot, and cops in teen comedy Superbad, and more cops than you can shake a stick at in the black and white movies we watched a while back. They’re everywhere, even in outer space, but above all, they’re immediately below 🙂
Fargo Marge Gunderson is probably my favourite cop-hero of all time. She doesn’t do the ass-slide over the hoods of cars, she doesn’t use karate to subdue perps twice her size, and she doesn’t cause millions of dollars in damage as she careens her car wildly through populated city streets. She’s just a quiet woman getting er done – you know, kind of like a real cop would do. Frances McDormand is crazy-talented, and I love watching her waddle through this movie with her quaint sense of humour, her helmet hair, the meals she shares with her husband. She doesn’t thump her chest or swing her dick around but she’s persistent and dogged and we enjoy watching her unravel this case – poor used car salesman Jerry (William H. Macy); he never really stood a chance against such a humbly formidable opponent.
The Departed This one is kind of on the other end of the spectrum, isn’t it? Two young cops join the force – one, Matt Damon, has a pristine record but works as a mole for mob boss Jack Nicholson. The other, Leonardo DiCaprio, comes from a rough background which helps him go deep under cover, infiltrating the gang, and feeding information back to the only two cops who know he’s actually a good guy – Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg. What ends up happening is that these two chase each other, relentlessly trying to uncover the mole while staying hidden themselves. It’s tense, degrading work, and losing means you pay with your life. Honestly, my favourite cop is probably the one played by Mark Wahlberg. He just goes so off the hook, unpredictable, balls to the wall, you have to admire it. The ending leads me to believe that he’s not clean. But is he a disgruntled ex-cop gone rogue or is he somebody’s rat? Either way, “If a gun is pointed at you, it doesn’t matter if you’re a cop or a criminal.”
21 Jump Street Aaaaaand switching gears again, one of my favourite cop buddy movies of recent years, and probably ever (although, for the record, I also super love Hot Fuzz, and if Matt hadn’t jumped on it, I’d have tried my best to beat Sean to it). This movie is self-referential and mocks the very genre it masters, but it’s never a mere homage. It’s smarter than a spoof, much like Hot Fuzz I suppose, and isn’t afraid to pay respect to its roots, embracing them even, and making them part of the fun. There’s never a moment when the film stops winking at us, trading in the cop movie clichés for cops in bike shorts doing slow-speed chases through grass, having cases thrown out on sad technicalities (“You have the right to remain an attorney.” – “Well, you DO have the right to be an attorney if you want to.”), bullet-riddled tankers that somehow fail to explode. I didn’t like Channing Tatum before this, and I still only like him in this (and I believe that includes the sequel) but for some reason the chemistry between he and Jonah Hill just really works.
As long as I can rembmer, I wanted to be a cop. I used to play cops and robbers in the schoolyard- usually with people who didn’t even know they were playing. When I was about to 12 I had to rethink my career goals when I realized that my eyesight wasn’t nearly good enough and would never be able to drive a car or see who I’m shooting at but the dream was fun while it lasted. I didn’t know much about police work back then but I did watch a lot of cop movies. Thanks to Wandering Through the Shelves for giving me an excuse to revisit them this week.
In the Heat of the Night (1967)- In the Heat of the Night is nearly 50 years old but its oepning scenes couldn’t be timelier. There’s been a murder in Sparta, Mississippi and the police go out and arrest the first black man they see. Of course, the suspect turns out to be an off-duty Philadelphia homicide detective who they call Mr. Tibbs. If Sidney Poitier and Rod Steiger’s characters ever managed to become buddies, this would have been a contender for the best cop buddy movie of all time. Instead, What we get instead is much more interesting- a classic that manages to say a lot about race relations in the deep South in a time where you had to pretty careful what you said about race in the deep South. Best of all, it never forgets to deliver an engaging murder mystery
Hot Fuzz (2007)– According to TV ads, Hot Fuzz is “from the guys who have watched every action movie ever made”. Satire works best when a writer understands its subject so Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg were smart enough to take aim at a genre that they clearly knew well- and loved! Pegg plays a big city cop witha love of police work who is paired with a smalltown cop with a love of police movies (espeically Bad Boys 2). You can feel the love for buddy movies in almost every scene as Wright does his best to recreate the look and feel of a mainstream action movie and filling it with unexpected laugh-out loud moments throughout. To me, this is still pegg and Wright’s funniest movie.
Se7en (1995)– Between Sean and I, we have three picks from 1995 – a year that seems to have been a golden age for cop movies. Unlike most movies about serial killers, the cops (played of course by Morgan Freeman and Brad Pitt)- not the killings- are the focus. Freeman, days away from retirement, has lost faith in humanity long before John Doe’s first killing and Pitton his first week on the job, still believes he can make a difference. Over the course of one week and seven brutal killings, both men will have to examine their beliefs. Se7en also has the distinction of being the first film in director David Fincher’s twenty-year winning streak. The final “What’s in the box?” scene is so powerful that even Pitt’s overacting couldn’t derail it.
Great picks! Loved Se7en, Hot Fuzz, Fargo, Die Hard and The Departed. Heat and 21 Jump Street also made my list. Haven’t seen the rest.
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Well I guess you’ve got some watching to do!
Jesus. I didn’t even think of Die Hard. I could I forget about Die Hard?
In the Heat of the Night is an interesting choice, haven;t seen it, but kudos on that pick.
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Thanks, I highly recommend In the Heat of the NightIt was the first one that popped in my head when I heard we were doing police movies.
Quite a few of my faves here: Fargo, Hot Fuzz…
Never seen Bad Boys but the guys at work were telling me to check it oot.
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I happen to think that the best reason to see Bad Boys is to give you an excuse to see Bad Boys 2 which is twice as badass. That’s where shit gets real.
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My work buddy kinda said the same thing. So it’s worth lifting my Bay Embargo for?
Sure is because I have one too and I’ll make an exception for these. I have to warn you though that it still is unmistakeably Bay.
It’s still Michael Bay. You’ll still roll your eyes like crazy. Will Smith and Martin Lawrence are a little more about spitting out the horrible one-liners that are abundant.
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I confess I watched TF4 two weeks ago on Netflix. The one liners…oh god. WHO TALKS LIKE THAT?
Best one in the movie:
Marky Mark – “You’re gonna help me save my daughter!”
Irish Guy – “No! You’re gonna help me save my girlfriend!”
I’ve only seen bits of Bad Boys. And I’ve watched Se7en and Hot Fuzz fully. I think Se7en’s so-called twist is overrated, but it’s a good movie overall.
I wasn’t thrown by the twist in Se7en because someone had spoiled it for me ahead of time but I do love the scene because it feels like the perfect end for each character. It feels right. Tragic but right.
Excellent picks! (and I love that gif you chose for 21 Jump Street) I’m glad someone went with Bad Boys because I almost did myself.
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Am I the only one who found The Departed to be needlessly over-complicated and confusing, with too many characters and five billion different plot threads going on at once?
I actually considered Die Hard for my own list, and almost put it on. The only reason it didn’t make the final post was because of the way it handled the cops. After all, yes, Bruce Willis plays a tough cop (though technically he was off-duty), but generally outside of him and Al the police being ineffective is something of a major theme in Die Hard. I ultimately just decided to stick to films that had more positive images of the police force.
Maybe you are the only one. I think The Departed is brilliant. There are a lot of people to keep track of but I wasn’t confused, I was dazzled and excited and entertained.
I’ve seen every movie mentioned and love them all. Great job! Um…Lovitz and Carvey in Bad Boys…shuddering at the thought.
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Love these! 21 Jump Street! I wanted to pick that one so badly!
I know, there are so many good ones it’s impossible to pick all your loves.
Fantastic collection of films. Die Hard is such a great choice, can’t believe I didn’t even think of it. Bruce is kickass of course but what really makes it so great is that it’s not just him but Bonnie Bedelia and especially Alan Rickman as equally strong characters that makes it so rewatchable.
In the Heat of the Night and Fargo are classics. 21 Jump Street I enjoyed far more than I thought I would, haven’t seen Hot Fuzz but it sounds like it follows a similar vein, so it’s on my list. Se7en I appreciated more than liked. Heat had those two acting giants making it worth a view and Bad Boys was entertaining in its mindless way. I know I’m in the minority but I hated The Departed so much.
I chuckled when Jay said there were cops in almost every movie, so true it made narrowing down so tough this week. The best I could do was get it down to four.
Stakeout (1987)-Buddy movie is just what the title suggests. Two cops, Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez, are running a surveillance on an ex-girlfriend, Madeleine Stowe, of escaped convict, Aidan Quinn. All goes well until Dreyfuss accidently runs into Stowe and then falls for her. What separates this from the pack is the terrific chemistry between Dreyfuss and Estevez, good work by both Stowe and Quinn and an excellent pace set by director John Badham.
The Big Heat (1953)-Fritz Lang’s noir masterpiece. A crooked cop commits suicide and leaves a letter full of incriminating evidence on the crime syndicate he was involved with. That letter is discovered by his Medusa of a wife who realizes it could bring down “the Big Heat” if exposed and uses it to her advantage. Honest cop Glenn Ford doing routine follow up on the suicide suspects something fishy and while probing gets a bit too close leading to tragedy and making him a dogged and determined man hellbent on justice. Punctured by burst of unexpected violence and tightly directed by Lang this has many fine performances and a stunning one by Gloria Grahame, perhaps her career best.
Lured (1947)-One of a kind little number from director Douglas Sirk with a truly eclectic cast. Lucille Ball plays a taxi dancer who is recruited by the London police as an undercover agent when her friend and fellow dancer disappears and may have fallen victim to a lonely hearts serial killer who meets his prey through newspaper personal ads. She proceeds to have many strange encounters, including an extremely odd one with Boris Karloff. She also crosses paths with nightclub owner and self proclaimed incorrigible cad George Sanders who charms her but perhaps has a dark secret. Ball, miles away from frumpy housewife Lucy Ricardo, comes across very well as the level headed protagonist.
Honorable Mention-No Way to Treat a Lady (1968)-A cat and mouse game between a prickly, mother ridden detective played by a hang dog George Segal and a serial killer who is a master of disguise, In the Heat of the Night’s Rod Steiger in a scene stealing performance. It’s a battle of wits between the two and George meets the knockout Lee Remick, who has her quirks too, along the way. A fun unusual ride.
I like that you got some older ones in there. I thought about it a long time, but realized that most that I was thinking of were private detectives and not cops. Foiled!
So many great picks!! I love cop comedies, so yay for Jump Street, Bad Boys & Hot Fuzz! The Other Guys w/ Ferrell & Wahlberg is pretty funny too. As for the more serious one, can’t go wrong w/ Heat & Se7en!
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Great post! I couldn’t love Fargo any more, and I almost included Die Hard on my list, too.
Nice picks, I’ve watch a little more than half of them. And wow you all actually watch these movies in preparation for TMP.
We sure do. I’m especially excited about loading up on Superhero Movies this week.
I’m especially NOT excited about that. In fact, I’ve declared the Lego Movie as a SuperHero movie, so I’ll just be over here, quietly watching it instead.
Good call, I didn’t even think of that.
I will throw in two Walter Matthau movies, because he is worth watching in any movie. He plays a cop in the downer The Laughing Policeman (1973), based on the series book by Maj Sjowall & Per Wahloo, and he plays a cop in the suspenseful The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, made the following year.
Thanks for the recommendations. I’ve only seen the Denzel remake of Pelham.
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The cheetah and I will chip in three cop movies that we loved
1. Bulitt – Steve McQueen
2. The French Connection – Gene Hackman
3. The Seven Ups – Roy Schieder
all late 60s-early 70s classic cop films. Gritty and full of great acting as well.