Of all the films and TV series I’ve seen where law enforcement plays a big role in the grand scheme of things, I’ve decided it’s time for another top ten. You have the right to remain silent and anything you do say can be left in the comments below.
10. Terence MacDonagh – The Bad Lieutenant, Port Of Call: New Orleans
Just making the list is Nicolas Cage’s time out as good cop gone bad, Terence MacDonagh. I first watched the film a couple of years ago and there was something about Terence that I just thought was brilliant. It might have had something to do with the fact that this bloke snorted anything he confiscated in a strip-search, raided the evidence locker to supply the local cocaine dealers and had the best hallucinations when he was off his face. Singing iguanas and dancing souls were very entertaining to watch, and they helped make this bad-ass a real anti-hero.
9. John Luther – Luther
In at number nine is probably the coolest man on earth playing the coolest DCI to have ever graced British TV. Idris Elba’s role of John Luther reminded us just how good the BBC can be when they’re at their best. Dark, brooding and very bloody clever, Luther was that cop who every criminal never wanted on their tail. For three seasons, Luther took on the very worst London had to offer and he proved to us why audiences loved him so much. The man was a genius, and I think it’s a shame that he’ll only solve one last case for us. Knowing Luther though, he’ll go out with a bang, and he’ll take half the London underworld with him.
8. Ed Tom Bell – No Country For Old Men
Sheriff Ed Tom Bell was the man out to get Anton Chigurh in one of my all-time favourite films. I can’t help but feel that because of the power house performance of Javier Bardem and the world-wide recognition and Academy Award he received for his role, Tommy Lee Jones was slightly ignored as the wonderful county sheriff. He brought some very darkly comic moments to the film and Ed Tom was very determined to catch Chigurh, although it was obvious that the sheriff had many doubts about his capabilities as he grew older. Whilst the role may not have been the biggest and, for some, not the most memorable of the whole film, there was something in it that meant I couldn’t discount it from this list.
7. Inspector Edmund Reid – Ripper Street The man who can from my favourite TV show. I couldn’t not include the lead man from Ripper Street, not when I fought so much for the show’s return after it was axed after season two. Whilst I could so easily have written reams and reams about the three amigos, I had to toughen up and choose just one. Matthew MacFadyen is always wonderful in each and every episode as Reid, showing steely determination to solve each and every case that falls into the capable hands of Whitechapel’s H Division. And with both seasons four and five already having been commissioned by Amazon, it seems like he’ll be around for a while yet.
‘Go ahead, make my day,’ is the famous line from everybody’s favourite maverick cop. Clint Eastwood made his debut as Dirty Harry Callahan way back in 1971, and I fell in love with him in the very first scene he appeared. You knew the man’s heart was in the right place, and that all he wanted to do was to keep San Francisco safe, but you did have to question the way he went about the job. All of his superiors did, and it just seemed that no matter what Harry did, he couldn’t please anyone. Eastwood set the tone as Harry, and there are a couple of people still to come on this list that, like him, can’t do right nor wrong by their superiors either.
5. Martin Riggs – Lethal Weapon
As we reach the half way point, we go from one maverick to the next. As much as I love Dirty Harry, I have to admit that I loved on half of the world’s worst matched detective partnerships more. Yep, Martin Riggs of Lethal Weapon was one hell of a loose cannon. He drove his bosses crazy… and we LOVED him for it. You couldn’t help but wonder just how this man managed to get a job in the police force, after all, how he would get a job anywhere is beyond me. But somehow, he was recruited, and this meant that Mel Gibson teamed up with Danny Glover for one of the best buddy movies there has ever been. Enough said.
4. Shannon Mullins – The Heat
Seeing as The Heat is basically the female equivalent of Lethal Weapon, it was always going to have that cop who everybody thought should’ve been put in prison years ago. Melissa McCarthy’s Shannon Mullins was that cop. She almost had me in tears when I watched the film and, unlike most comedies these days, this is something that happens anytime I watch it. Her lines are beyond quotable and the chemistry shared between McCarthy and her co-star Sandra Bullock was brilliant and destined only for success. There are rumours of a sequel, and I hope that these rumours materialise because if the second outing is anywhere near as good as the first, we’ll be in for a good’un.
3. Vincent Hanna – Heat
First of all, let me just say you should not confuse this film with the last one. Both are brilliant, but this one may not the provide you with the same laughs the previous one did. Starting off my top three is Vincent Hanna, the ingenious LA cop who took on a gang of bank robbers in Michael Mann’s 1995 smash hit Heat. I loved the film – it is one that has firmly planted itself amongst my favourites – and I loved it’s protagonist for a few reasons. He was an outstanding police officer; he was stark raving mad (made clear to us with that line which was, apparently, ad-libbed); and he was played by Al Pacino who is one of my faves. Over the years, Pacino has played some very memorable characters and some of them have been wicked law enforcers – one was real life cop Frank Serpico. Seeing as I’m keeping to fictional police officers on this list, Serpico didn’t make the cut this time, so my go-to Pacino fix was Vincent, and I think you’ll agree he was a good choice.
2. Rust Cohle – True Detective (Season 1)
Just missing out on the top spot is the man who I suspect was the reason HBO’s True Detective was such a huge success. Matthew McConaughey’s performance as Rust Cohle became a fan favourite and made sure that the 2014 pilot season was sky-launched into existence. The thing about Rust was that he sucked the life out of you – the man had a very cynical look on life after tragedy years before – but you just couldn’t tear yourself away from him. Every week you grew more and more attached to him despite his very depressive manner, and when the end credits began to roll when the season finale finished, it was like saying a final goodbye to an old friend. His turn as Rust also made me sit up and take notice of McConaughey as I’ve said many times before. This performance I think cemented his place as one of my favourite actors, and I’m very pleased it did.
1. John McClane – Die Hard
Let’s face it – it was never really going to be anybody else who took the top spot, was it? Bruce Willis is most famed for his role of John McClane in Die Hard and the endless sequels it has spawned. For me, he was at his best in the first, and like is the case with McConaughey, it is this role that is responsible for my love of his films. In Die Hard, Willis owned the part of McClane and he helped raise the bar for the action genre. Over the years, McClane has seriously shown the bad guys who’s boss, and he has always done it in style. He has also spouted many very quotable lines and, above all, made sure that his loved ones return home safely. However, it very nearly wasn’t Brucie who made John McClane famous. We have our good friend Mr Pacino to thank for turning down the role that made Willis’ career for him. Who’d have thought it?
So there’s the arresting list of my top ten cops on the box. Do you agree? Or who would have made your list? Feel free to let me know via the comments…