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The 9 Most Ridiculous Cop Movies According to an Actual NYC Police Officer

By Indiewire | Indiewire June 13, 2014 at 11:07AM

An actual New York City police officer tells us what exactly is wrong with all of those ridiculous cop movies.
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22 Jump Street

The summer of 2014 seems to be the summer of the cop movie. With the James McAvoy indie "Filth" out last week, studio comedy "22 Jump Street" and the Israeli drama "Policeman" opening today, and the Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr. buddy cop movie "Let's Be Cops" out in August, police officers are definitely having a moment. But cop movies are an abundant genre, with plenty of good and bad, clean and dirty, genuine and fodder police officer stories told over the years. The multitude of boys in blue on the silver screen got us wondering just exactly how many of these movies reflect the actual experiences of your average everyday police officer. Indiewire reached out to an actual cop for his opinion. Naturally, he had a lot to say about how his profession is presented on screen in that most cop movies are utterly ridiculous. Though we can't reveal his identity, we promise you, the writer of this list is an actual Sergeant in the NYPD. Here's his list of the top 9 most ridiculous cop movies, let us know your additions in the comments.

READ MORE: James McAvoy on Getting 'Filth'-y for a Career Redefining Performance


"48 Hours" Dir. Walter Hill (1982)

The Premise: A hard-nosed cop (Nick Nolte) reluctantly teams up with a wise-cracking criminal (Eddie Murphy) temporarily paroled to him, in order to track down a killer.

The Reality: Not happening. There is no earthly way that this would have gotten any sort of approval from anyone in any kind of supervisory position. The idea that cops can just go in to a prison with some piece of paper to have an inmate released into their custody for investigative purposes is so dumb that it's cringe worthy. I can sum up what would have happened if this were real: Cop gets inmate out of jail. Cop brings inmate home. Cop falls asleep. Inmate runs. Movie over. Nick Nolte isn't running after anyone, trust me. He would have had an escaped prisoner on his hands, then a suspension, then probably unemployment. Nice try, writers. Nice try.

Bad Boys

"Bad Boys" Dir. Michael Bay (1995)

The Premise: Two hip detectives (Martin Lawrence and Will Smith) protect a murder witness while investigating a case of stolen heroin.

The Reality: The whole thing stinks. Nowhere in this country does a police department let that amount of drugs just sit in a precinct, believe me. Narcotics related evidence gets taken almost immediately to covert sites that are heavily guarded, tested very quickly and then destroyed. This cuts down on a lot of integrity issues. So that right there invalidates this entire movie. Plus their slick-as-goose-shit attitudes would have found them on parking details a lot sooner in their careers, prior successes or not. No one in any department likes a show off.

"Beverly Hills Cop" Dir. Martin Brest (1984)

The Premise: Freewheeling Detroit cop Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) pursues a murder investigation and finds himself dealing with the very different culture of Beverly Hills.

The Reality: Firstly, I have a tough time believing that with Axel Foley's shady background, he would have ever made it onto a police department in America. His association with known criminals would have raised all kinds of red flags. Also, how did no one call bullshit on any of his little scams he pulled when in Beverley Hills? That neighborhood is crawling with cops making sure the rich and famous are left undisturbed. Foley wouldn't have lasted five minutes in that town trying to pull his shtick.  

"Die Hard" Dir. John McTiernan (1988)

The Premise: John McClane (Bruce Willis), an officer of the NYPD, tries to save wife Holly Gennaro (Bonnie Bedelia) and her co-workers who have been taken hostage by German terrorist Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman) during a Christmas party at the Nakatomi Plaza in Los Angeles.

The Reality: No. Could. Not. Happen. The first time John McLane engaged the terrorists he would have been dead. That was a first rate team of mercenaries and I'm sorry, unless McLane was a super spy in a former life, he wouldn't have stood a chance. Furthermore, let's examine the FBI's response: "A typical A-7 scenario." What the heck is that!? How did they get a Huey and a major sniper rifle? Who gave them the authorization to use them? Sorry, there are just so many things wrong with this movie, it's hard to nail them all in a quick blurb. Oh, and LAPD Sergeant Al Powell (Reginald VelJohnson), the man on the scene helping McClane keep his sanity? I like him and what he tried to accomplish, but there is simply no way that he would have been allowed to remain on the scene. His car had enough bullet holes in it to qualify it for Swiss cheese status. No department would allow an officer involved in such an incident to remain at the scene instead of being checked out by doctors at a hospital then by a psychiatrist during the several (most likely mandatory) days off he had coming afterwards.

"Kindergarten Cop"
"Kindergarten Cop"

"Kindergarten Cop" Dir. Ivan Reitman (1990)


The Premise: Detective John Kimble (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a tough-as-nails cop, must show off his sensitive, kid-friendly side as he goes undercover as a school teacher to take down drug kingpin Cullen Crisp (Richard Tyson), a criminal he's been trying to apprehend for many years. 

The Reality: Great idea! Let's take a cop and have him teach a bunch of five-year-olds kids every day for what seems like half a school year. What could go wrong?! Everything. Everything could go wrong. In what world would any school district allow a police officer (let alone Arnold) to come into their school and conduct an investigation? Answer: none. Why? Because undercover work is the single riskiest operation law enforcement does. You are purposefully dealing with criminals in order to eventually arrest said criminals, and if it's found out that you're not who you say you are, it doesn't go well, I can tell you that much. Also, how did no one question his teaching methods? Getting the kids to march military style on the playground, reciting armed forces-like cadences is a bit much. That would definitely not go unnoticed.

"Lethal Weapon" Dir. Richard Donner (1987)

The Premise: Veteran cop Roger Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is partnered with a young suicidal cop, Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson). Both have one thing in common: they hate being paired up. Now they must learn to work with one another to stop a gang of drug smugglers.

The Reality: Does anyone in the movies ever have to do paperwork for anything? I mean, they left half the city in ruins, and didn't hold a pen once! Lucky! Also, how the hell is Mel Gibson's character not out on his ass on psychiatric disability? What was that shrink thinking giving him the OK to carry a weapon? I can guarantee you, a cop like Martin Riggs, who has spiraled so far out of control, would have been deemed unfit for service. The psychiatrist he was seeing was obviously, for the purposes of this film, incompetent.  In the real world though, I promise you, Riggs would have been let go from the department.

"Point Break"
"Point Break"

"Point Break" Dir. Kathryn Bigelow (1991)

The Premise: AN FBI Agent goes undercover with a group of surfers who are perpetrating brazen bank robberies dressed as former Presidents of the United States of America.

The Reality: Actually not that far-fetched, just really poorly acted. This could happen, to a point, but Keanu Reeves' character Johnny Utah attempting to fit in with California surfers is comical at best, and in a real world operation, he would have been exposed as soon as the first "Whoa" left his mouth. Gary Busey's portrayal of Agent Pappas, Reeves' partner and back-up, was also laughable in that he had no idea how to shadow his field agent in a manner that would have ensured even one iota of safety. Further, as soon as they had the evidence on the gang, they would have been taken down before it all spun that far out of control. I highly doubt that any investigator would have allowed Bodie to take that final wave. Putting him in cuffs would have been immensely satisfying.

"Red Heat" Dir. Walter Hill (1988)

The Premise: Georgian police Captain Ivan Danko (Arnold Schwarzenegger), is forced to partner up with cocky Chicago Detective Sergeant Art Ridzik (James Belushi) when he is sent to Chicago to apprehend a Georgian drug lord (Ed O'Ross) who killed his partner and fled the country.

The Reality: Are you kidding? Why would any agency in this country allow a foreign official to actively conduct an investigation on our soil, let alone allow that person to carry a hand-cannon? No, this won't do, another Arnold flub. As a long-standing, long-recognized rule, each country is responsible for the apprehension of criminals that are within their borders. It's why you hear every so often that some criminal is nabbed in one country, with the sincere thanks of the original requesting country for doing their work for them. Then, said criminal is extradited back to the original country for trial purposes. I don't really think that in a time when the Cold War was still an ongoing situation, a representative from and Eastern Bloc nation would be allowed to operate on American soil, no matter how hard Belushi's character attempts to stop him.  

"S.W.A.T."
"S.W.A.T."

"S.W.A.T." Dir. Clark Johnson (2003)

The Premise: An imprisoned drug kingpin (Olivier Martinez) offers a huge cash reward to anyone that can break him out of police custody and only the LAPD's Special Weapons and Tactics team (featuring Samuel L. Jackson and Colin Farrell) can prevent it.


The Reality: Good grief, their training is awful. None of it is real-world based. That whole obstacle course? What does that prepare them for? I went through a long police academy, and I don't recall ever being taught how to tuck, roll and come up firing. Cool on film, not even slightly practical. And again, how were they not bogged down with paperwork after each of their fire fights? Where do I sign up for that gig?

This article is related to: Lists, Die Hard, Beverly Hills Cop, Lethal Weapon, Point Break, 22 Jump Street, Filth, Policeman