Police officers are a big part of action movies, but it’s their personalities that make them the most memorable. From the stunts they do, their dialogue or even just carrying a hand cannon for a sidearm, cops in movies are as iconic as any other character in cinema. So, with that in mind let’s take a look at the portrayals of officers in the world of cinema.
#5 – Marge Gunderson
In the cold dead of winter in North Dakota, a very pregnant police chief (played by Oscar Winner Frances McDormand) investigates a mysterious crime that turns into something bigger. While she may not be the gun wielding cliché of other characters on this list, it’s her story that is one of the many highlights of Fargo.
We learn about her husband and his business and even see a meeting between her and an old High School friend that plays out very effectively. She’s smarter than she appears and eventually figures out the debacle that is hitting her town. She’s one of the most interesting cops in cinema because McDormand plays it very close to reality and it’s an exceptional performance.
#4 – Martin Riggs
In the city of Los Angeles there’s one cop who definitely has a reputation and no one wants to be his partner and that is Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson). Seeing this character in four films, there’s no actor that can embody this character quite like Mel Gibson. From his outrageous reactions, his jokes and annoying his partner Murtaugh, poor Danny Glover, Riggs is a thorn in everyone’s side.
Wielding his signature 9mm Baretta and running towards the bad guys, he’s one cop who you don’t want to get on his bad side. What’s his favorite catchphrase again?
#3 – William Somerset
A man who’s seen more than his fair share while on the force. Morgan Freeman gives an unforgettable performance as a Detective who’s looking forward to retirement when a series of strange and bizarre murders start to occur.
Partnering up with David Mills (Brad Pitt) these two learn from each while tracking down a deranged killer. Somerset knows a thing or two and his character is the most interesting and unique among many others in the David Fincher’s masterpiece Se7en. This isn’t a movie that involves shootouts or fights but more about the work of being a detective and living with the sheer horror and brutality these detectives see on a day to day basis.
#2 – John McClain
He’s the wrong guy, in the wrong place at the wrong time! Bruce Willis is John McClain, an ordinary cop who happens to bump into situations that always seem to get out of hand. Whether it’s battling terrrorists, arguing with his wife or just trying to survive the day, McClain will always get the job done but not before saying his iconic catchphrase that we all know too well.
With the first three movies being the best and most watchable, Live Free was decent and A Good Day was a disaster. Still with five movies attached to the name, McClain is the cop to root for even when the odds are stacked against him. No matter what’s he’s doing, it’s probably a bad idea.
#1 – Harry Callahan
Who could be more iconic than Dirty Harry? Inspector Harry Callahan takes no prisoners and will get the job done no matter the cost despite the trouble he causes for his Captain. With memorable quotes, that 44 magnum and the no nonsense attitude, Callahan is more than just a movie cop.
His character changed the way people thought, doing the right thing even if it means breaking the law. The Dirty Harry collection is one of the best movie franchises to watch and not just for the action. The character himself makes the movies work and the timeframe from which these movies were released sparked controversy and much debate. After all these years, it’s Callahan were still quoting and still love and cherish.