My wife and I are huge movie buffs. I love action movies a bit more than she does, but she is usually willing to sit through just about anything I want to watch. Anyways, when we have the time (which, unfortunately, is not too often these days), we like to have a Movie Theme Day. That's where we pick a common theme, and watch 3-4 movies that fall under that.
So, I thought I would occasionally share some of my choices for certain themes. Today's theme is what I call "Police Action." Basically action-adventure movies where the protagonist is a cop. Here is my top five (in no particular order):
1. Cobra - Almost any list of mine would be incomplete without a Stallone entry (though he's never done a fantasy film). I love this movie. The character is so over the top and bad ass. And the villain is effing scary! The cast is great (including the pre-psychotic, one-time Mrs. Stallone, Brigitte Nielsen), and the action is top notch. Even the music is anthem-worthy. I have the soundtrack on LP somewhere, and I downloaded "Voice of America's Sons" by John Cafferty for my iPod (it plays over the end credits). This movie was meant to be the first of several, but that never came to fruition. That's too bad. Of all of Sly's one-shot characters, Marion Cobretti is probably the one I would most liked to have seen more of.
2. Lethal Weapon - The ultimate Buddy Cop action film. This one started it all, I think. Say what you will about Mel's off-screen antics, he has always consistently given great performances, and is an iconic action star. And Danny Glover…well, he’s Danny Glover! What the hell else could you want? I even enjoyed Gary Busey’s villainous turn. The dynamics of the relationship between Riggs and Murtaugh are amazing. They’re about as close to “real” people as you can find in Action World. The best part about this film is that there are three sequels. Each one strong in their own way, and each showing some real character development.
3. Dirty Harry – Clint Eastwood is legendary. He is an icon. He is the standard that all Hollywood tough guys aspire to. And in the first installment of this series, he shines brilliantly. And that fabulous gun! A Smith & Wesson Model 29 (I own an AirSoft version) will blow your head clean off. Inspector Harry Callahan of the SFPD is not one to be trifled with. This movie represents the justice we all (sometimes secretly) want for the real-world psychos out there. The action and dialogue even stand up today (though costuming and set pieces definitely date it). And with four sequels, there is enough Harry to keep you entertained for a long time.
4. Raw Deal – Though technically not a “cop” movie (he’s a an Ex-FBI agent brought out of forced retirement to exact revenge on the mob), it still qualifies in my book. One of The Oak’s best acting jobs in an action film, this one has everything. Car chases, gun fights, fisticuffs, hot chicks. You name it, this movie delivers. Even a couple of plot twists and surprises. Over all, this movie is a roller coaster of action-packed fun. Definitely one for the archives.
5. Die Hard – Former lounge singer and TV private eye, Bruce Willis turned out a surprise performance as everyman of action, John McClane. This movie delivered a unique combination of action, suspense, and comedy gold, to create one of the most endearing cop heroes in film history. And Alan Rickman is just BRILLIANT as Hans. But then again, when is Alan not brilliant, really? Of the Planet Hollywood Trio, Bruce is definitely the best actor. And there are some really great scenes of him showing off his chops in that regard.
One thing you will notice is that the majority of my favorites are from the 80’s. That’s partially due to my upbringing, and my obsession with what I consider the greatest decade in history. But it’s also indicative of how I view Hollywood. Action movies today are all about slick special effects, with little to no substance. And cop movies are a dying breed (being only slightly more widespread than the Western, sadly). The 80’s were the heyday of the action film, and of cop films in particular. I hope this is a trend that comes back around. I would love to see more movies like these being made. With real men, rather than the Hollywood pretty boys who all look like they just stepped off the cover of Men’s Health Magazine.
Tango & Cash
Also see this interesting article.