If I asked you to count how many cop movies you’ve seen in your lifetime it would be a difficult task. Policemen of all types have found their ways into countless movie storylines spanning a number of genres. Today I’m looking at some of cinema’s best police pairings. Now I’m not just looking at your standard buddy-cop stuff. I’m listing police partners that I found the most compelling for a variety of reasons. Obviously with so many to choose from I wouldn’t call this the definitive list. But I do firmly believe that these five movie police partners are certainly phenomenal.
#5 – Harris and Hoyt (“Training Day”)
Talk about a rough first day. Ethan Hawke plays Jake Hoyt, a rookie cop during his first day as a narcotics officer. He is paired with a seasoned street-savvy veteran Detective Alonzo Harris played by Denzel Washington. The movie takes place during Hoyt’s first 24 hours on the job. Harris quickly initiates him into the dark and violent narcotics scene mainly by exposing his own vile corruption. Hoyt wants to do the right thing. Harris is rotten to the core. That makes for one mesmerizing and intense partnership.
#4 – Mills and Summerset (“Se7en”)
David Fincher’s crime thriller “Se7en” is about as dark as it gets. With a serial killer who patterns his murders after the seven deadly sins on the loose, two detectives are put together to track him down. Brad Pitt plays the young and impulsive Mills while Morgan Freeman plays the cautious veteran. The story grabs you from the start but another reason the film works so well is the great chemistry between Pitt and Freeman. I really went for these two which makes the movie’s big ending all the stronger.
#3 – White and Exley (“LA Confidential”)
Yes I know there is technically a third police partner involved in “L.A. Confidential” but I really want to focus on the strained and sometimes violent partnership between Guy Pierce’s Exley and Russell Crowe’s Bud White. Frequent readers of this blog know that these are two of my favorite working actors and their ability to relay the friction of these two cops is brilliant. Along with Kevin Spacey’s Jack Vincennes, a group of very different policemen find themselves in a seedy noir world of corruption and Hollywood sleaze.
#2 – Tibbs and Gillespie (“In the Heat of the Night”)
They may not have been partners by choice but Philadelphia detective Virgil Tibbs and Sparta, Mississippi police chief Bill Gillespie had one of the most tense but compelling police partnerships in cinema history. This 1967 mystery/drama dealt with an assortment of issues but the anchor of the movie was the strained relationship between these two cops. Hampered by their own personal prejudices and a very unhappy local citizenry, Tibbs and Gillespie gave us one great scene after another.
#1 – Riggs and Murtaugh (“Lethal Weapon”)
I’m not sure if any two people define the ‘buddy cop’ subgenre better than Mel Gibson and Danny Glover did in their hugely popular “Lethal Weapon” series. There was such a great chemistry between these two guys. Riggs is the unhinged but good-hearted man with a ton of emotional baggage. Glover is the safe, by-the-books family man who is looking forward to retirement. The camaraderie that forms between these two polar opposites is what gives the films crazy humor and wild action its fantastic appeal.
So those are five choices of great movie police partners. What do you think of my list? Do you see some that I missed? Please take time to share your thoughts on this list and others that you would include.
Great topic for Phenom 5 Keith!! So this is what you meant when you replied to me about In the Heat of the Night 😉 That one and Training Day are the two I still need to see, but very interested in seeing them soon.
I LOVE LA Confidential, that one just never gets old!
Thanks Ruth. LA Confidential is sooo good. What about Se7en? That’s a very dark and violent thriller. Did you like that one?
Oh yes I did, and of course Lethal Weapon too. In fact, I agree with all three that I have seen 😀
Woo Hoo! 😉
Btw, check your DM 😉
Riggs/Murtaugh is the only cop pairing that could come in at #1, great to see that there Keith!!! What a cool topic for Phenomenal 5. I also find it really funny how most of these are a white guy paired off with a black guy. Trying to think of many partnerships that are NOT that way. . . hmmm. . . .
Wow! I can honestly say I never consciously made that connection. That’s very observant but also very intriguing. Good eye!
I’ve yet to see LA Confidential, and I’m starting to feel really out of place about it ;). Excellent phenomenal 5, Keith. So happy you put Training Day, a really underrated cop flick!
Thanks! It was a fun list to do. Training Day had to make it. Talk about an intriguing pairing. So many memorable scenes. Remember the scene involving Hawke, a shotgun, and a bathtub? The tension is through the roof during that whole sequence.
Very true! Especially the lead up while he’s sitting playing poker, just mulling the upcoming predicament over. It’s incredible!
Yep. It’s an uncomfortable and unforgettable scene.
Excellent choices, some of my personal favorites besides these are those in End of Watch and Bad Boys
I was never a big fan of Bad Boys but I haven’t scene End of Watch. Isn’t that the Jake Gyllenhaal picture?
Top choices here mate and can’t argue with any of them, but no Turner and Hooch?! 😉
LOL!!! You got me there pal! I never even thought of that one! Well played!
Turner and Hooch was the first pairing that popped into my head when I saw the title of the post too! Great minds think alike, Chris…and so do we.
Love Mills and Summerset.
Absolutely. To me part of the greatness of that movie comes from the great chemistry between those two.
Your list is the best. There’s more bad cop teams out there than good. The first pairing of Rush Hour with Chan and Tucker was funny. I liked Bad Fuzz with Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg. 🙂
Thanks so much Cindy. I figured someone would bring up Hot Fuzz. Unfortunately I couldn’t mention it in good conscious. To be honest I’ve never seen more than half of that movie. There were several others that came to mind but these were the five that stood out to me the most.
You took all the good ones. 🙂
That was the aim! 🙂
5 “phenomenal” choices! Not a bad pick in the bunch. I have to recommend you see “End of Watch” ASAP. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena make a great pair.
Some others I like:
Lowery & Burnett (Bad Boys)
Murphy & Lewis (original Robocop)
Drebin & Hocken (The Naked Gun)
Taggart & Rosewood (Beverly Hills Cop)
Lee & Carter (Rush Hour)
Grade mentions there. A couple I really did consider. I thought a lot about RoboCop but since their partnership was fairly limited I ended up leaving it off. Beverly Hills Cop was very close to making it. You can’t go wrong there can you? And I really need to see End of Watch. You are the second person to mention it.
I can’t argue with your selections…but can I give an honorable mention to Shane Black, who has created two of my favourite partnerships: Joe Hallenback / Jimmy Dix in The Last Boy Scout, and Harry Lockart / Gay Perry in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang … although in both cases only one of them is a detective, so they don’t count!
Ahh The Last Boy Scott starring Bruce Willis and Damon Wayans (before his career tanked). Wow I haven’t seen that movie in years. I remember having a lot of fun with it.
Love Training Day! Classic movie.
Yep, I agree. For some reason it has received some hate over the years but I think it’s a really strong picture.
Excellent lot you have here Keith! Loved LA Confidential and Training Day was good! Se7en is also a great flick with a fantastic pairing!
Thanks. I was going for partnerships that I found very intriguing. For one reason or another all of these on the list have stuck with me over the years. It was really fun putting them together.
And definitely a fun read too!
Excellent list, man. I pondered to see if I had a suggestion of my own but I think you’ve covered it. Great to see LA Confidential and Seven in there.
Thanks Mark. These were definitely tops on my list. Several others came close but ultimately these were the ones who I found the most interesting.
Great stuff Keith! Love Lethal Weapon but the pairings in L.A. Confidential and Seven stand out for me here – such great 1990s movies. For comic value, I’d add Taggart and Rosewood from Beverly Hills Cop!
Agree about BHC. It definitely has tons of funny moments. I thought about 48 hours but technically Reggie isn’t a cop.
Normally, when I see these kinds of lists, I try to make suggestions on who I’d include instead, or how I’d reorder them. But with this one? I have no such suggestions. My own list might look identical!
Great work, Keith.
Thanks buddy. I felt really good about these choices. When I began putting this list together these 5 were the first that came to mind. They stood through all of the selection process!
Nice list. Can’t disagree with L. A. Confidential and Se7en. I would also second Hot Fuzz.
Thank you. Another mention of Hot Fuzz. I suppose I’m going to have to sit down and watch it. Too many people have recommended it in the past.
I see from the comments someone else already noted the racial pairings of all but LA Confidential. It seems to be a theme that just works because for movie cop pairings these are the really stellar ones. Though Lethal Weapon is my all time favorite. I haven’t seen Training Day but with those two actors involved I can imagine their relationship. Cheers. (Love this idea of Phenomenal 5 that other comments mentioned. Is it a recurring post series?)
Yes every Monday except when a big new review is due. That was the case this week. It will be coming tomorrow.
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