Blame Sherlock Holmes. The great detective’s investigations were perhaps the first to get us hooked on delving into the darker reaches of humanity, and the thin blue line between law and order, all from the comfort of our homes. So you could say almost all forms of ‘crime as entertainment’ are heirs to the famous resident of 221B Baker Street.
We love a cop film here at BOB, so here’s our elementary (sorry!) rundown of five of the best cop movies you have to see:
The true-life story of a good cop (Frank Serpico, played by Al Pacino) struggling to do what’s right in an extremely corrupt environment completely evolved how Hollywood would depict the world of law enforcement. It’s an engrossing, gritty and realistic depiction of early ’70s New York, as Serpico tries to blow the lid on the crooked activities that surround him, which ultimately take a huge personal toll. Powerful and thought-provoking, it set the standard for a new type of cop movie – because if even the cops can’t trust the cops, who can you trust?
It could well be the best cop movie ever made. Set in Boston in the mid-2000s, the multiple Oscar-winning film from Martin Scorsese follows an undercover cop and a mole in the police, both living dangerous double-lives as they try to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang. To say it features a stellar cast is an understatement – Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack Nicholson, Matt Damon, Martin Sheen, Mark Wahlberg and Ray Winstone are all here, like some sort of acting supergroup. It’s also a contender for the most amount of ‘f-words’ ever heard in a film – seriously, there are f-ing hundreds.
Beverly Hills Cop
Der, der, derr, der-der, derr-derr… if you’ve never actually seen Beverly Hills Cop you almost certainly would’ve heard the iconic theme music at some point in your life. If you fancy something a bit different away from the usual grittier side of cop movies, this is the ultimate ’80s comedy cop film – action-packed, without taking itself too seriously. It single-handedly launched Eddie Murphy into superstardom as the street-smart, wise-cracking officer Axel Foley, who travels from Detroit to Los Angeles to solve his best friend’s murder. Don’t bother with the two sequels though… they’re, er, not much cop.
The Coen Brothers’ classic black comedy is still wonderful to watch, 25 years on from its original release. Based on a “true” story that took place in late-80s North Dakota and Minnesota, car salesman Jerry Lundegaard (William H Macy) is so deeply indebted he hires two thugs to kidnap and ransom his own wife. However, the plan goes seriously wrong when they shoot a state trooper. Equal parts violent, exciting, quirky and funny, the real star is Frances McDormand as the wonderfully-accented Marge Gunderson, the pregnant police chief investigating the crimes. A great member of the cop movie genre. Don’t miss the four brilliant spin-off TV series, too.
End of Watch
One of the most realistic cop movies of all time, you are thrown right into the daily grind of two members of the Los Angeles Police Department (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena), as they patrol one of LA’s most dangerous neighbourhoods. And you’ll really feel right there with them, as all the fast-paced action takes place via one of their handheld cameras, absolutely immersing you in street-level realism. The cops are not just colleagues, but also best mates, which means they’re tested to the limit when they inadvertently come up against a brutal Mexican cartel. Get End of Watch on your watchlist now.
We hope this has given you some ideas if you are stuck for something to watch (or re-watch even). Agree? Disagree? Have we missed something? Why not drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a comment on our Facebook page.