Given the recent incidents of violence tied to cops in America, it may be a problem for some of you to be concerned about movies where they are protagonists.
Indeed, we all condemn these sad news events resulting in numerous victims and the birth of substantial social movements such as the famous Black Lives Matter.
However, as I always say, cinema is always the best-magnifying glass to look at reality from another point of view.
As it might have been with the nuclear scare at the time of the X-Men‘s birth, for example, fiction is also the best means of exorcising our fears about something we cannot control.
Today, let’s watch some cops plummet inside some borderline situations in some entertaining movies where the least of the problems is getting amused.
Action, drama, fun laughs, and more await us in these quite different stories, offering a colorful and wide-ranging sampling of police officers.
So always remember, especially when you are at the theater among other people, you have the right/duty to shut up and let others enjoy the show in peace.
Table of contents
Shield of Straw (2013)
At the helm of today’s first adventure, we have one of the best living Japanese directors, Takashi Miike, creator of more than a hundred movies extremely disparate in style and subject matter.
The cops in this movie get into trouble when escorting a dangerous serial killer to Tokyo, where authorities are waiting to put him on trial.
Indeed this maniac has surrendered after the grandfather of his latest victim, a little girl he brutally killed and raped, places a bounty of a billion yen on his head, dead or alive.
Fueled by the collective national hatred against this disgusting murderer and the mirage of earning a fortune, a small army of desperados begins to assault the armored vehicle along the highway.
Unfortunately, trouble will not only come from outside, even among the cops but there are also some ready to betray and even kill their colleagues to get their hands on the huge prize.
It is pointless to argue too much: when it comes to staging the madness reigning supreme in this world, Takashi Miike is always one of the best in this field.
Little changes in the style and pace he gives to a narrative, whether he is chronicling the epic of a samurai ronin group as in 13 Assassins or the no-holds-barred struggle between some criminals/vampires as in the crazy Yakuza Apocalypse.
Here we have a crime movie with cops on every corner, good and bad at the same time, dealing with clearly bigger trouble on their hands than they can handle.
Yet there is the incorruptible hero, devoured by the dilemma of defending the worst possible human being, so evil that he is almost an amusing cartoon.
So like any other Takashi Miike movie, you can love or hate it, but certainly, you cannot ignore it.
Colt 45 (2014)
From Japan’s modern highways, we move to the heart of France for an action movie starring a cop who prefers to work for himself away from trouble.
This guy is an expert gunsmith in the French police force, and besides having an enormous knowledge of all kinds of firearms, he is also an excellent shooter.
Indeed the story begins right after he wins a challenging competition smashing every record in a target shooting match.
He does not even have time to collect his award when two Americans, both CIA recruiters, approach and ask him to join a special team operating around the world.
The boy refuses the offer, retreating to his laboratory, where he has long been working on a devastating new prototype .45-caliber bullet.
Until one evening at the firing range, he meets an older agent who, intrigued by his project, would like to test his creation in the field.
From that time on, the boy ends up in a spiral of violence that escalates into a war between some corrupt cops and a gang of vicious drug dealers.
Fabrice du Welz has always been a filmmaker with a refined and unusual signature style since the terrifying Calvaire or even more shocking thriller Alléluia, inspired by a sadly famous pair of serial killers.
Colt 45 represents his turn toward the dark undertones of French polar movies, where it is always trouble to figure out exactly where the line is between cops and criminals.
However, the action scenes are brilliant and fast-paced, edited and staged with deference for time to mount tension and then release an adrenaline rush.
So anyone who likes an adult and unpredictable crime story cannot miss it, as well as those looking for shootouts with elaborate but realistic acrobatic choreographies.
Speaking of police and corruption, of course, we could not miss a stop in the United States, with an excellent performance by the fabulous Nicole Kidman.
In this movie, the actress gives up her delicate Australian beauty to transform herself into a cop neck-deep in personal and business troubles.
It all begins when one of her old acquaintances returns to Los Angeles, organizing a dangerous robbery with some old pals of hers.
Thus she relentlessly pursues him while on the other side trying to hold together her precarious relationship with a daughter who despises her.
Years earlier, she was very different, a young hopeful agent who ended up immediately ruined by a tough assignment as an undercover in a criminal gang.
The same man she is now looking for is the leader of that gang, guilty of the death of her beloved colleague, secretly the father of her child.
On a long day without respite, she will seek futile revenge while desperately attempting to reassemble the pieces of her shattered life.
We have seen many movies with cops on edge, such as Abel Ferrara‘s chilling Bad Lieutenant, and I have no problem saying that Destroyer does not even come close to that level.
However, Nicole Kidman‘s terrific performance makes the difference, coupled with Karyn Kusama‘s solid hand behind the camera sketching a modern metropolitan noir without any frills.
After the flop of the sexy horror Jennifer’s Body starring Megan Fox and the payback with the splendid thriller The Invitation, the American director and screenwriter find a good compromise in the middle.
I don’t want you to expect a masterpiece, yet this movie chronicles with glacial effectiveness the drama of a cop broken in her soul beyond any possible redemption.
Dragged Across Concrete (2018)
Some time ago, I recommended Brawl in Cell Block 99 in a Tough Guys Movies article, so now let’s go back to a story written and directed by S. Craig Zahler.
The two cops in this movie risk losing their jobs after getting into a lot of trouble when their brutal beating of a drug dealer is filmed and put online.
Both were already living in precarious conditions, with the older one desperately trying to move away from a violent neighborhood and the younger one, who is instead at the beginning of a relationship he wishes to bring to a marriage.
Suspended from duty and penniless, these men agree to work with a shady broker, beginning to follow the steps of a dangerous gang just arriving in town.
Their goal is to wait for these criminals to scrape together a nice haul and then rip them off, although when they commit a robbery that escalates into a massacre, all their good intentions fall by the wayside.
Talking about Brawl in Cell Block 99, I had already mentioned the talents of Vince Vaughn, a consistently underrated actor with whom the veteran Mel Gibson teams up here.
After a period of isolation due to his stormy personal life, the former Mad Max has returned better than ever in more mature and complex roles.
Against these corrupt cops stands the professional thief Tory Kittles, a trouble they, unfortunately, underestimate until the movie’s tragic and bloody climax.
S. Craig Zahler cages these men in an arena of ruthless realism and personal greed, where each of them nevertheless remains human while fighting to save his family.
So let us continue to admire the fantastic progression of this director and screenwriter, who so far (unlike his unlucky characters) always delivers the mark.
I just realized that I have only offered dramatic and dark movies, so we conclude instead with a fast-paced comedy that always features a cop in a lot of trouble.
Nevertheless, the story begins with the cold-blooded murder of his work partner at the hands of an elusive drug dealer, now becoming this cop’s obsession.
After nearly a year without finding a clue about this criminal, his patience is finally rewarded when an informant confirms the precise location where he is to close a big deal.
Unfortunately, the cop is just then out of the hospital after undergoing delicate laser eye surgery, so seeing almost nothing, he calls one of the many Uber drivers.
The guy is a quiet, peaceful Pakistani who rounds out his salary any way he can, except that day is about to take an unexpected turn for him.
Dragged along by the unstoppable rush of the revenge-seeking cop, he will actually get to chase him around the city, going from one crime den to the next nonstop.
As we have already seen in the spectacular Guardians of the Galaxy saga, when Dave Bautista plays a giant idiot on the loose, he becomes absolutely irresistible.
By his side, we have the pleasant Pakistani comedian Kumail Nanjiani, a mild-mannered ordinary man who is unfortunately involved in a suicide mission.
Director Michael Dowse handles the hilarious script nicely, something he had already managed with What If, a romantic comedy I had recommended with many other Redeeming Love Movies.
We can’t say the same for the action scenes, which are uninspired and without much imagination, but after all, the point of this movie is to have an innocent laugh.