Call the cops! But maybe hold off dialling 911 just yet as, if the movies have taught us anything, you never know what sort of boy in blue is going to answer. And with this month's War on Everyone – out now on Virgin Movies – adding some very worthy recruits to cinema’s extensive Dodgy Bobby Police Department, we're checking our criminal records to find the very best of the movie’s Bad Cops…
1. DEA Agent Norman Stansfield (Gary Oldman in Leon, 1994)
Sweaty of forelock, itchy of trigger and cuckoo of mind… As Leon’s drug-dealing, pill-popping, utterly-bad baddie Stans, Oldman gives a massive performance specifically designed to fill the verbal vacuum that the titular taciturn man-child leaves. In fact, he’s so deliciously OTT that a teeny fraction of you can’t help rooting for him a little bit regardless. All together now: “Ev-er-y-oneeeeeee…!”
2. Staff Sgt Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon in The Departed, 2006)
Can you really trust anyone called Colin? The super-smooth Sullivan has been fast-tracked for success in the Boston state police. Unfortunately, the sneaky little weasel is in reality exactly the sort of crook he’s employed to be hunting down – a deep undercover mole working for The Departed's local godfather. Colins, eh?*
*Not ALL Colins, obviously
The Departed is available now on Sky Cinema
3. Exley, White & Vincennes (Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey in LA Confidential, 1997)
Brutal, bent and boozed, and that’s just the good cops. The mismatched trio at the heart of LA Confidential - careerist Ed Exley, muscle Bud White and the cynical show boater Jack Vincennes – might not wear halos, but that just makes their slow, foolhardy conversion to justice in the City of Angels seem all the more saintly.
4. The Lieutenant (Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant, 1992)
Well, it’s not just a clever title. Bad Lieutenant’s titular wrong ’un starts his day with a naughty drug pick-me-up, before laying on dodgy bets, stealing evidence, and forcing underage driving offenders to put on a show for him by the side of the road. And of course, this being prime-1990s Harvey Keitel, he winds up naked and crying – you’ll never be able to watch those insurance ads again.
5. Detective Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington in Training Day, 2001)
Charms and arms go a long way, with the former carrying nearly as much punch as the shotgun that Det. Harris can use to surgical effect. Training Day sees Denzel go into full charisma overdrive as the cunningly corrupt narc officer who drags a naive wannabe (Ethan Hawke) on a merry dance around gangland LA as he fights fire with firearms – not so much tip-toeing the fine line between cop and criminal as doing a drive by over it before tampering with the evidence and stealing the money.
6. The T1000 (Robert Patrick in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, 1991)
Terminator 2: Judgement Day's ‘motorcycle cop’ probably has a better success rate at tracking down runaway children than the average beat bobby. To be fair though, the LAPD probably has a policy against employing relentless liquid-metal assassins from the future who can morph into anything they want during their merciless pursuit of their target.
7. Detective Jimmy ‘Popeye’ Doyle (Gene Hackman in The French Connection, 1971)
The French Connection’s Popeye Doyle is utterly obsessive once he gets the scent of a score, which might explain his heavy handed interrogation tactics, heavier handed auto-pursuit skills (in that legendary semi-improved car chase) and eventually not caring one jot when he guns down one of his own having mistaken him for his heroin-smuggling Gallic quarry: a bull in a china-white shop.
8. Detective ‘Dirty’ Harry Callaghan (Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry, 1971)
Do you feel lucky punk? Well, anyone who finds themselves in front on Harry Callaghan’s 44 Magnum hand cannon is unlikely to consider themselves particularly fortunate, given that Dirty Harry has zero qualms about using the angry end of it. The archetypal anti-bureaucrat, Callaghan could probably cut down on having to go through all that red tape by avoiding shooting so many people.
Dirty Harry is available now on Sky Cinema
9. Captain Louis Renault (Claude Rains in Casablanca, 1941)
War brings out the worst in people, and the best too, and Renault covers both in Vichy Casablanca. A metaphor for occupied France, the cynical captain is cheerful enough about being the Nazi’s pet cop – using the position to appropriate favours from vulnerable women – but has a secret soft spot for the grumpy Yank Rick Blaine. It’s the latter that lets Louis walk ‘into the sunset’ with his new bestie, on their way to join the resistance. The start of a beautiful friendship indeed.
Find Casablanca in On Demand > Movies > Virgin Movies
10. Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson (James McAvoy in Filth, 2013)
The only quality fuzz on display here is the ragged beard that DS Robertson sports, flecked with booze, food and bile. Filth’s Robertson is a bigger threat to his own colleagues than the criminals of Edinburgh, obsessed as he is with endlessly plotting against his rivals and pals. But the casual cruelty that the bullying Robertson heaps on all comers is gradually revealed to be a side effect of his mental health becoming as dishevelled as his grooming.
Filth is available to stream now on Netflix
11. Captain Thaddeus Harris (G.W. Bailey in the Police Academy movies, 1984-94)
Police Academy is available now on Sky Cinema
12. ED-209 (RoboCop, 1987)
You have 20 seconds to comply, and given that RoboCop’s dim-witted bot-bobby is basically a heavily armed tank-on-legs, we’d suggest you do what he asks. There might be an endearingly gawky stop-motion charm to the military mechanoid, like his oh-so-dainty attempt to navigate the stairs, but make no mistake, thanks to a tech glitch, ED-209 will be turning you into a greasy spot on your wallpaper in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1…