Introduction by Devon Kopec
No job is more exaggerated in film more so than the Police Officer. If you go by the movies all cops do is pound pavement, beat up informants and shoot bad guys. Reality is far more boring as the paperwork for just one of these events would be so great that Starsky and Hutch wouldn’t dare take another case ever again.
Thankfully reality is boring and so are cops that don’t kick down doors and blow off faces. This list is to celebrate the coolest, most efficient and effective cops in films. With that comes some limitations meaning no dirty cops (Sorry Alonzo Harris) and no buddy cops because as cool as Riggs is, he’s just not the same without Murtaugh.
This week’s edition of AFB Top 5 showcases our favorite cops in movies.
#5 Det. Axel Foley (Beverly Hills Cop)
Steve: Whilst incredibly entertaining, Foley is also a damn good police officer. Using his guile and cunning, Axel knows how to handle most situations and isn’t afraid of being thrown through a plate-glass window to get to the bottom of a case.
Working in Detroit, one of the most dangerous cities in the world, Foley is no stranger to life-threatening situations and remains quick on his feet even when neck-deep in shit. A reformed criminal himself, Foley knows how to work both sides of the fence. Sure, he is willing to ruffle his chief’s feathers and has a blatant disregard for proper police procedure but only because Foley knows the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The fast-talking Axel will get to the bottom of narcotics dealings and murder cases even if it means he has to stick a few bananas in your tailpipe.
Devon: Axel Foley probably has the jammiest theme song that follows him around and is a total Hot Shot. Street smart and he’s like a bloodhound when he gets a whiff of the bigger conspiracy. Like Steve mentioned Axel is willing to go through some pretty insane situations to get what he needs, granted you won’t see others on this list running around actual theme parks but that’s part of his charm.
Jon: When compared to the other cops on this list, Axel is definitely the flashiest most stylish motherfucker on here. He is the guy on the team that will talk shit but back it up. This is what’s so great about the Beverly Hills Cop. He isn’t the best cop on this list but he is definitely the loudest, and one of the most memorable.
#4 Det. John McClane (Die Hard)
Devon: McClane is your everyman, he’s that cool cop that catches you underage drinking and tells you to toss it instead of hauling you in, getting you grounded therefore ruining your summer vacation. He’s just an ordinary guy that gets caught up in extraordinary situations but rises to the occasion every time. That’s what makes him so special. He doesn’t want to be the hero, he doesn’t seek it out but when he has to be, John McClane is your guy. How he ended up saving Fort Knox to driving the beat in Philly is a crime against humanity.
Steve: John McClane hasn’t had a normal Christmas in years. He is very much like Axel Foley in a sense that his most impressive feats were when he wasn’t in his jurisdiction but that is the end of the comparison. McClane is just a guy trying to patch up his marriage and ends up having to bungee jump off of Nakatomi Plaza and thwarting a terrorist plot. It just goes to show that while one man in the right place at the wrong time can make a difference, John McClane in the right place at the wrong time will save the day.
Jon: I mean, shit, in Japan he is dubbed the “Dynamite Cop”. If that ain’t cool then you’re a lame. McClane is the only cop on this list that is worthy enough for the use of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony as his destruction music. Other than that, not much else can be said that wasn’t stated above. The one thing that may be bothersome is the fact that he may have been a bit overshadowed by Hans Gruber in the first Die Hard. How does he make up for it? By DYING HARDER FOUR MORE TIMES.
#3 Sgt. Nicholas Angel (Hot Fuzz)
Jon: Not necessarily a conventional pick or a first thought when asked “who is the best cop in movie history?”, but hot damn Police Constable Nicholas Angel gives everyone on this list a run for their money. Hot Fuzz is a parody of buddy cop movies. But what separates this movie (and the others in the Edgar Wright’s Cornetto Trilogy) from other “parodies” is that although presented in comedic fashion, it stays true to the subject matter, so true that it almost becomes the industry standard. Nicholas Angel is not only a parody of cops in movies (or cops in general) but also the very definition of a Police Officer. He is the peak, physically and intellectually, of movie cops in a standard sense, or cops in the realistic sense. Hot Fuzz uses Angel to pay homage to some of the most legendary cop movies of all time: Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys 2, and Point Break (in blatant fashion). He is the end result of being all skill, all talent, and all hard work. The stuff legends are made of. A real human being and a real hero.
Devon: Nicholas Angel is a parody yes and yes, that is the point but he is all the best and worst parts of a ‘super cop’. He is not John McClane; he was actually moved to a different department because he was too great. He’s like the Major Payne of police officers. He almost wasn’t eligible for this list due to his buddy cop affiliation but Nicholas Angel and Met Sergeant are so different in skill levels that he gets the pass.
So uptight? Yes. Effective? Absolutely. Nicholas Angel is on paper probably the best cop on this list.
Steve: Nicholas Angel is the super cop! He is too good for the real world situations. He should be one of the Expendables because of his drive to uphold the law knows no bounds. He is the truest form of a police officer too. He is defined by his position and duty and he knows it. He is also the only one who knows how to JUMP FENCES in an Edgar Wright film.
#2 Robocop (Robocop)
Devon: Police Office Alex Murphy was a hot shot new transfer to the Detroit Police Department so by himself he may have had a shot on this list. Alas it was not to be as his first day on the job leads to one of the most graphic killings in cinema history. Exit Murphy enter Robocop. Literally programmed to become the ultimate cop, every rule is downloaded into his brain and he becomes a walking police force.
With an iconic gun and a sweet leg holster, Robocop gets to work laying down the law with authority. What’s the first thing Robocop does when he gets set loose? Shoots a dude in the dick. Murphy does not FUCK around. Think of every cop on this list, he’s their wet dream. Bullet resistant, bad ass gun, sweet catchphrase, has a huge hacker spike in his hand. Robocop has it all.
Steve: Officer Alex Murphy was a POS. First day on the job and he gets murdered. Way to go, dumb dumb. Thankfully the kind folks at OCP felt sorry for Officer Bumbles and extended a helping hand in the form of becoming a robot cop aptly named “Robocop”. Robocop literally stops all crime in Detroit aka the future site of DELTA CITY. The End.
Seriously though, when we are talking Robocop, we are not talking about the recent shitty reboot featuring some asshole in a metal suit. We are talking the full-on Robot with a badge from the 1987 classic. He is made to serve and protect. A literal tank that doesn’t need to worry about his own well-being, he can do things normal police officers simply cannot.
Jon: Robocop was so bad they had to reboot it this year.
Jon: R2D2 forever.
Jon: Nah but really, I thought Robocop was going to clean up and make it to #1 since he is the most iconic and most recognizable “cop” in movie history.
#1 Judge Dredd (DREDD)
Steve: Sylvester Stallone’s film iteration hurt the character’s image and it wasn’t until seventeen years later that Mega-City One’s most hardnosed judge got a second chance to redeem himself in the 2012 film, DREDD. Complete with a never wavering scowl, Judge Dredd is a faceless imposing figure who embodies the laws that he so strictly protects. He does not allow for any lapses in his judgments. Love it or hate it, he is the ultimate cop.
In the film DREDD, he literally gets locked inside a gang-infested apartment block which would be considered a skyscraper in our modern day terms but to Mega-City One citizens, it’s a slum. So when the gang’s leader declares war on Dredd and his rookie-in-training, Judge Anderson, Dredd immediately lets it be known that he is not trying to survive this situation through any means possible like John McClane in Die Hard. Judge Dredd is going to go about his job and dish out sentences by the truckload for threatening a Mega-City One Judge. That’s the kind of cop he is. He can never turn it off. Robocop’s directives can be reprogrammed but Judge Dredd will never turn off.
Jon: Is this dude even a cop? Is he a judge? MAKE UP UR MINDZ.
Steve: HE IS THE LAW!
Devon: Yes, while his title isn’t exactly a police officer he is a Judge, which is Mega-City version. Dredd is a walking embodiment of judge, jury and executioner. He doesn’t react to anything; he is a force of nature against crime. Judges are badass on their own but Dredd is like a ghost story for every criminal out there. His deeds are mythic and yeah getting trapped in a futuristic apartment complex could SEEM bad, for a pussy like McClane maybe. For Judge Dredd? It’s exactly where he needs to be.
Jon: He exists only to uphold the law. The future is bleak and desperate times will call for desperate measures. Dredd is the result of society’s failures. He is a creation spawned by our very own faults as human beings. He is a glimmer of hope in a sea of filth and madness. “Negotiation’s over. Sentence is death.”
So turn in your gun and badge because that is it for our Top 5 Movie Cops. Let us know what you think down below in the comments section or tweet us your thoughts @ANTiFanboy! See you next week!