Five Best Fictional LAPD Officers
It is hard for the LAPD to compete with the NYPD when it comes to the best cinematic cops. To go up against characters like John McClane and Popeye Doyle is a bit futile. Even so, there are still some extremely iconic LAPD cops over there on the West Coast. New York City and Los Angeles are quite different. Throughout the history of cinema, New York City has been dense, gritty, and concentrated. Whereby Los Angeles is often depicted as vast, diverse, and maybe a bit more racially unstable. To follow-up on the previous article The Top Five Best NYPD Officers, here are the Top five best LAPD officers
Jack Traven from Speed (1994)
When Keanu Reeves starred in Jan De Bont’s amazing action thriller Speed in 1994, it reignited his career. Gone was the floppy-haired surfer dude from the Bill & Ted movies and Point Break. Now, Reeves was a buzzcut LAPD SWAT bomb-diffuser, Jack Traven. Recently, he and his partner, Harry Temple (Jeff Daniels) foiled the plot of a bomber involving an elevator full of people. Soon thereafter, the bomber rigs a Los Angeles bus with a bomb that will explode if the bus slows to below 50mph. What follows is an incredibly breathtaking adventure as Jack Traven makes his way on the speeding bus and tries to foil the villain’s plan once again. Reeves’ portrayal as Traven is intense, believable, and exciting. When we see him tethered to a small cart in an attempt to defuse the bomb while the bus is speeding, we know he is a very capable officer.
John Spartan from Demolition Man (1993)
Sylvester Stallone’s portrayal of John Spartan in 1993’s Demolition Man is definitely one of his best. Early on in the film, Los Angeles has slipped into an anarchic cesspool, mostly caused by Simon Phoenix (Wesley Snipes) and his criminal enterprise. During a hostage situation, the LAPD sends in a maniac to catch a maniac in the guise of Spartan. He is the man that will go to any length to save the innocent and bring criminals to justice. When things go south, John Spartan is convicted on involuntary manslaughter and sentenced to rehabilitation in a cryo-prison. Flash forward 36 years and Spartan is thawed out because Simon Phoenix is back. Gone is the LAPD, but Spartan is reinstated into the San Angeles Police department (Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego have merged). What follows is a wonderful sci-fi action comedy with Spartan as the most capable cop in a society full of pacifists. Never before has Stallone been so equally badass and hysterical.
Alonzo Harris from Training Day (2001)
In the NYPD feature, Bad Lieutenant was discussed. Harvey Keitel was that kind of immoral cop that will do, and has done, anything it takes to get the job done. Well, the LAPD has their own Bad Lieutenant, and that is Detective Alonso Harris in 2001’s Training Day. This gritty drama by the prolific Antoine Fuqua tells the story of Denzel Washington’s Detective Harris’s evaluation of rookie officer, Ethan Hawke’s Jake Hoyt. Throughout the evaluation, Harris forces Hoyt to smoke PCP-laced pot, visits his mistress and love-child, steals $40,000 from drug dealers, and executes bogus search warrants. Detective Alonso Harris is one of the most corrupt cops in the history of corrupt cops. However, Denzel Washington’s portrayal is astonishing. So much so that it earned him a Best Actor Oscar.
Frank Drebin from the Naked Gun Franchise
Though not expressed to be a part of the LAPD, Sergeant Frank Drebin (Detective Lieutenant Police Squad!) is a police officer in Los Angeles, so he certainly qualifies. Leslie Niesen was one of our most treasured comedians. The hysterics he brought to the Naked Gun trilogy have hardly been equaled throughout comedy history. Frank Drebin comes across as a bumbling fool, but he is constantly falling ass-backward into investigatory success. His pratfalls are hilarious, such as when his airbags deploy in an extreme manner. His one-liners are classic. But the best thing about Nielsen’s Drebin is that he doesn’t look, sound, or feel like a cop. It is like watching your ill-equipped grandfather trying to save the Queen of England. It is so infinitely enjoyable.
Martin Riggs & Roger Murtaugh from the Lethal Weapon Franchise
If there is a west coast equivalent to the iconic John McClane, it would have to be the LAPD’s Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh from Lethal Weapon. These two come as a pair because over the course of four films and eleven years, Mel Gibson and Danny Glover’s characters lit up the silver screen. Legendary director Richard Donner directed all four films, and they are among the gold standards for action comedy. Martin Riggs is the loose cannon. He is willing to take ridiculous risks because the loss of his wife has given him a death wish. Roger Murtaugh is the polar opposite. He is a family man on the cusp of retirement. It is the classic buddy cop formula played out to perfection.
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