Cop Movies List

Friday, September 11, 2009 at 3:49 pm

No blog about film would be complete without a cop movies list, and here it is! From the rollicking buddy cop movies to more dramatic fare, these films make life as a law enforcement officer seem far more glamorous and exciting than it actually is. Then again, I guess nobody would be interested in watching Clint Eastwood fill out paperwork for two hours. So buckle up, hit the sirens, and prepare for this cop movies list (all films are available through either Netflix or Blockbuster Online).

1. Lethal Weapon (1987) – The greatest of the cop movies of the 80s, Lethal Weapon sparked a buddy cop frenzy in Hollywood. None of the imitators were able to duplicate its appeal, however, mainly due to the talents of stars Mel Gibson and Danny Glover. Joe Pesci would inject some comic relief in the sequels, but the first film is far more concerned with shootouts and martial arts showdowns.

2. Last Action Hero (1993) – A brilliant parody of the genre, Last Action Hero was one of the best, and most overlooked, cop movies of the 90s. Danny Madigan stars as a young boy obsessed with movies, and he’s in for a big surprise when a magical movie ticket transports him into the world of favorite action hero Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger). Watch for Ian McKellen in a small role as Death, as well as cameos from Tina Turner, Sharon Stone, Robert Patrick, Angie Everhart, Chevy Chase, Jean-Claude Van Damme, MC Hammer and more.

3. L.A. Confidential (1997) – Based on the James Ellroy novel, the film tells the seedy story of murder and corruption surrounding the Los Angeles police department in the ‘50s. Many of the cast were somewhat unknown at the time, especially Russell Crowe and Guy Pearce. Kim Basinger won an Oscar for her portrayal of a escort who looks like Veronica Lake, and Kevin Spacey, James Cromwell and Danny DeVito also chip in with memorable performances. Of all the cop movies of the 90s, this one certainly has the most depth.

4. The Gauntlet (1977) – Clint Eastwood plays Ben Shockley, a loser cop trying to escort a witness (Sondra Locke) from Las Vegas. She warns that the police want them dead, but he ignores her until cops start showing up everywhere they go and opening fire. Now the duo must try to reach their destination with everyone on their tale, eventually boarding a reinforced bus for the film’s bullet-riddled finale. Classic Eastwood goodness with more gunplay than the average cop movies of the 70s.

5. Witness (1985) – Harrison Ford tries to protect a young Amish boy who witnessed a murder while on a trip to Philadelphia. When he realizes that a fellow cop committed the murder, John Book (Ford) heads to Amish country with the boy and his mother (Kelly McGillis). Naturally, Book and the mother start to develop feelings for one another, despite the various societal differences. A solid outing which deserves a spot on any cop movies list.

6. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005) – While the lead characters aren’t cops, I still felt obliged to include this one. Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer star in this film written and directed by Shane Black. Downey plays a small-time crook who gets offered a movie role. Sent to L.A., he studies alongside a private eye (Kilmer) and accidentally gets caught up in a plot involving blackmail, mistaken identity, and murder. Excellent dialogue makes this a cut above the rest, especially as new cop movies go.

7. Hard-Boiled (1992) – John Woo directed this Hong Kong cop movie about Inspector Tequila (Chow Yun-Fat) and his quest to bring down the crime syndicate responsible for the death of his partner. The film’s climax comes in a hospital, where our hero must gun down bad guys while simultaneously saving patients and newborn babies.

8. Colors (1988) – Robert Duvall plays a veteran L.A. cop trying to show his hotshot new partner (played by Sean Penn) the ropes. Terrific performances by the lead actors, and Ice T provides the film’s theme song.

9. Dirty Harry (1971) – Clint Eastwood plays San Francisco cop “Dirty” Harry Callahan, a no-nonsense lawman on the trail of a brutal serial killer. A massive hit for Eastwood, the film spawned four sequels.

10. Hot Fuzz (2007) – Another example of new cop movies, this film re-teams Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright of Shaun of the Dead. Filled with action and brutal deaths, it’s as much a parody of the cop genre as anything else. It’s still damned entertaining, though, and Timothy Dalton gives one of his most interesting performances as a sinister small-town supermarket owner. Plus, how often do you get to see senior citizens involved in big screen shootouts?

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Still with us? Great. Now that you’ve read our cop movies list, how about checking out the following articles, as well:

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