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20 Times Movie Detectives Totally Broke the Law to Get Their Guy

Everybody loves a good detective movie, but it’s usually not because the hero so admirably plays it by the book. No, that just wouldn’t be very interesting. The best detective characters are often forced to go beyond the law to do what’s right – or, at least, what they think is right.

It’s not uncommon for movie detectives to have a moral compass of their own – a sort of unshakable belief in the powers of good and evil that often brings them into conflict with the strict, red tape-obsessed higher-ups they work for. These types of characters pop up in movies that run the gamut from thoughtful questioning of authority figures to romanticizing violent vigilante justice.

Either way, they all fit comfortably under the umbrella of the “Cowboy Cop” movie, with heroes (or anti-heroes) who, whether for philosophical or personal reasons, take the law into their own hands. It doesn’t mean we always agree with them, but it does make them a lot of fun to watch. In the list below, we’ve counted down 20 memorable movie moments in which hard-boiled detectives go beyond the law to stop the bad guy.

The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade

Warner Bros.

One of Humphrey Bogart’s best movies, The Maltese Falcon is also one of the first noir films ever made. The movie is about a detective, Bogart’s Sam Spade, who becomes embroiled in a dangerous case involving a priceless statuette from ancient times. In classic Bogart fashion, Spade goes beyond the law to find out who snuffed out his partner.

Not only does he continue to work the case after being ordered to butt out of it, but he often opts to settle matters with a little vigilante-esque flair. A great example of this is when Spade decides to put the sneaky lackey Joel Cairo in his place, smacking him around and demanding: “When you’re slapped, you’ll take it and like it!” It’s a great line, but it does make it a little hard to call it self-defense.

Beverly Hills Cop (1984)
Eddie Murphy as Axel Foley in Beverly Hills Cop Paramount Pictures

Beverly Hills Cop is a great ‘80s action-comedy about a nonconformist Detroit cop who travels to Beverly Hills, California to investigate the death of a friend. Working against his superiors’ orders under the guise of taking a vacation, Detective Axel Foley’s entire mission is technically unlawful. What’s more, Foley brings a reckless, devil-may-care style of policing to the streets of Southern California, performing all manner of destructive drug busts and car chases without any authorization at all.

Lethal Weapon (1987)
Mel Gibson as Sergeant Martin Riggs Warner Bros.

The action-packed Christmas classic Lethal Weapon is the ultimate buddy cop movie, featuring a duo of detectives that compliment each other with their opposite approaches to the job. While Danny Glover’s Roger Murtaugh plays it by the book, his partner, Mel Gibson’s Martin Riggs, is a freewheeling loose cannon that violates protocol every chance he gets. In his suicidal, carefree mania, Riggs breaks law after law as he engages in bouts of unnecessary violence which very nearly jeopardize the mission.

A classic example of Riggs’ unhinged, law-breaking style is when we’re introduced to him; a simple drug bust at a Christmas tree farm turns into a bloody shoot-out when Riggs decides to “show them some crazy.”

Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects (1989)
Kinjite Forbidden Subjects Cannon Films

Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects is a crime thriller about an unforgiving Los Angeles detective bent on shutting down the underage prostitution ring run by a sadistic pimp. The detective is played by vigilante justice genre mainstay Charles Bronson in an atypically boisterous and brutal role that stands in stark contrast to his typical Stoic persona. Regardless of the new approach, Bronson is in peak form, kicking ass and taking names he’s been told not to kick and take by his superiors.

As the Los Angeles Times described it in their review, “the disturbance you feel in watching “Kinjite” doesn’t just come because it has a sordid subject, some bad scenes or a heavy cargo of shock and sleaze, but because it leaves us, much of the time, with no moral anchor.” Indeed, Bronson’s character is a loose cannon like no other, operating without qualms or scruples of any kind, as evidenced by this line he delivers to a bad guy he’s questioning: “You give me a hard time, I’m gonna blow off your knee caps.” He blows up the guy’s car shortly thereafter.

To Live and Die in L.A. (1985)
Chase scene in To Live And Die In L.A MGM/UA Entertainment

To Live and Die in L.A. is a brilliant and highly underrated crime thriller about a foolhardy detective who sets out on the vengeance trail after his partner is murdered. The detective’s mission soon turns into a dangerous obsession, and it’s not long before he begins operating outside the bounds of the law he’s supposed to be upholding. One of the best examples of the hero’s recklessness comes in the form of the now-famous wrong-way car chase sequence, which sees the detective driving against Los Angeles traffic and causing an incredible amount of collateral damage and injury.

Heat (1995)
Al Pacino in Heat Warner Bros.

Heat is a star-studded action thriller from Michael Mann, the undisputed king of stylized crime movies. In the words of Screen Rant, “De Niro is a thief who runs a tight crew (Val Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, and Danny Trejo) of high-tech thieves. Meanwhile, Al Pacino is the dogged cop who has his own fearless crew (Wes Studi, Mykelti Williamson, and Ted Levine) who will stop at nothing to bring down De Niro.” While this film is loaded with law-breakers, the one that best fits this list is Al Pacino’s Lieutenant Hanna, whose obsession with the case at hand turns him into a direct reflection of the dangerous crook he’s trying to catch.

Reservoir Dogs (1992)
reservoir dogs scene Miramax Films

Reservoir Dogs, the debut feature film from hot-shot director Quentin Tarantino, drops the viewer in with a band of criminals in the immediate aftermath of a botched heist. The law-breaking detective in this flick is Tim Roth’s Mr. Orange, who masquerades as a thief and gains the trust of the criminal crew. As a result of trying to blend in and gain the bad guys’ trust, Mr. Orange actually participates in the heist, and even shoots an innocent woman while attempting to commandeer her car.

Doberman Cop (1977)
Sonny Chiba IS Doberman Cop Toei Company

Doberman Cop is a Japanese neo-noir crime film about a hardened detective from Okinawa who is sent to investigate a brutal homicide case in Tokyo. Played by the inimitable martial arts wizard Sonny Chiba, the detective (and his pet pig) solves the case with his particular brand of brutal butt-kicking, as well as a lot of country bumpkin charm. Demonized by the Tokyo police department, Chiba handles things according to his own moral compass, breaking laws left and right as he goes.

Miami Vice (2006)
Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx in Miami Vice Universal Pictures

Another film directed by Michael Mann, Miami Vice is the Heat director’s 2006 update and reboot of the classic ‘80s TV show of the same name. Taking on a darker tone than the TV show, Miami Vice pits its iconic duo of vice detectives – Crockett and Tubbs – against a dangerous weapons trafficker. Crockett and Tubbs break the law many times in their efforts to nab the bad guy, including instances of questionable coercion tactics and occasional brutality, as well as one of the two becoming involved in a romantic fling with the bad guy’s wife.

Violent Cop (1989)
Beat Takeshi in Violent Cop Shochiku

Violent Cop is a powerful neo-noir thriller film and the directorial debut of influential Japanese filmmaker Takeshi Kitano. It’s about a detective who’s fired from the force due to his gambling problem and violent tendencies, but continues the pursuit of a crook who kidnaped his sister without the help (and restraints) of the law. As the title implies, the titular cop’s methods are extremely violent, and he breaks nearly every rule in the book in his bloody quest. Unauthorized beatings, bouts of gambling and excessive drinking, and illegal money deals ensue, as the violent cop goes above and far beyond the law to get what he wants.

Related: The 25 Most Influential Japanese Movie Directors of All Time

Magnum Force (1973)

Magnum Force is the second entry into the Dirty Harry series of films, and one of the best renegade cop movies in cinematic history. In this sequel, Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry defies the orders of his superiors to investigate a series of murders that he suspects may have been committed by a fellow member of the San Francisco Police Department. Although he’s told to quit the search, Harry continues to pry, and is forced to unlawfully pull his pistol again and again. Working against deeply rooted corruption in his own workplace, Harry breaks just about every law he’s supposed to be upholding to get to the bottom of the mysterious case.

Mad Max (1979)
mad-max-1979 Roadshow Entertainment

The original Mad Max might seem like an odd choice for this list, but keep in mind that, in the first movie, there are still a few final vestiges of law and order being held up in George Miller’s dystopian future Australia. With his trusty shotgun and speedy V8 Interceptor, Max is one of those last upholders, and he’s committed to doing it by the book until a savage biker gang pushes him too far.

After the dangerous Toecutter and his gang kill his wife and child, Max acts against orders and goes full-on vigilante to have his bloody revenge. The iconic ending may be the most obvious use of excessive force seen on this list: Max handcuffs the final baddie to an overturned vehicle that’s rigged to explode, hands him a hacksaw, and says: “The chain in those handcuffs is high-tensile steel. It’d take you ten minutes to hack through it with this. Now, if you’re lucky, you could hack through your ankle in five minutes.”

Related: 11 Things You Didn’t Know About the Mad Max Franchise

Bullitt (1968)
Steve McQueen Bullitt 1968 Warner Bros.-Seven Arts

Bullitt is a classic cop movie starring the great Steve McQueen as the titular Frank Bullitt, a tough-as-nails detective tasked with “babysitting” a mob boss’s brother in protective custody. Famed for its iconic car chase scene, the movie packs in tons of high-octane thrills from start to finish. Suspecting corruption within his own police department, Bullitt takes matters into his own hands in this thrilling movie, engaging in unauthorized shootouts and chases in order to get his guy.

Hard Boiled (1992)
Chow Yun-Fat slides down stairs with guns in Hard Boiled Golden Princess FIlm Production

One of John Woo’s finest films, Hard Boiled is an action-packed “gun-fu” classic about a cop – nicknamed Inspector “Tequila” – who repeatedly goes against orders from the higher-ups to kill the men responsible for his longtime partner’s demise. Fueled by his desire for vengeance, Tequila shoots a number of men in cold blood throughout the movie, and partakes in dubious dealings with criminals to get closer to the guy he’s after. Played by the awesome Chow Yun-fat, Tequila is an archetypal anti-hero badass, and a detective who doesn’t let the regulations get in his way.

The Departed (2006)
The Departed Mr. French Jack Nicholson Leonardo Dicaprio Warner Bros.

One of the best neo-noir movies of the 21st Century, The Departed is Martin Scorsese’s remake of the 2002 Hong Kong actioner Infernal Affairs. In the classical style of both Scorsese and Hong Kong action movies, the film is populated with anti-heroes, including Leonardo DiCaprio’s undercover cop Billy Costigan. Over the course of the movie, Costigan begins to embrace the criminal lifestyle that he has infiltrated, and participates in a number of shady activities in order to finish his dangerous assignment. On the other end of the spectrum, the movie also follows police officer Colin Sulivan, played by Matt Damon, who is actually a spy for the Irish Mob.

Police Story (1985)
Jackie Chan hangs from a bus in Police Story Golden Harvest

One of the best detective movies of the ‘80s, Police Story is Jackie Chan’s crazy, stunt-filled action extravaganza about a Hong Kong cop running afoul of a vicious Triad boss. According to Collider, “By balancing stunt sequences with meaningful storytelling, Police Story spins a web of sociopolitical and character-driven intrigue, commenting on the corruption of the police force through the narrative of Chan’s Buster Keaton-esque protagonist.” Indeed, the movie is filled with crooked cops who break their own rules, and even Chan’s honest detective protagonist causes heaps upon heaps of collateral damage in his liberal use of excessive force.

Related: Best Martial Arts Movies From the 80s, Ranked

The French Connection (1971)
The French Connection - Gene Hackman 20th Century Fox

The French Connection is a fantastic crime thriller about a hard-nosed New York City detective on the hunt for a dangerous French drug lord. Determining that the drug lord must be stopped whatever the cost, the hero of this movie exercises all manner of brutality and destructiveness to get his guy; Raiding homes and businesses without warrants, slapping potential suspects around, and hijacking a random person’s car to engage in an epic car chase are just a few of the many violations of code that Gene Hackman’s Popeye Doyle performs.

Related: Best Films Set in New York, Ranked

I Saw the Devil (2010)
i saw the devil scene Magnet Releasing

I Saw the Devil is a brilliant South Korean revenge movie about a dogged detective becoming dangerously obsessed with tracking down a serial killer. Taking things very personally, the detective eventually stoops to the same level of brutality that the serial killer employs, savagely beating him within an inch of his life (and without any kind of authorization to do so), and doing everything he can to make his target’s life a living nightmare. The movie subverts expectations by making the once-sympathetic hero of the story out to be just as reprehensible as its villain.

Related: Here’s Why I Saw the Devil Is One of the Best Revenge Movies of All Time

Shaft (1971)
Richard Roundtree as Shaft in Shaft MGM

Shaft is an iconic blaxploitation classic about a suave detective tasked with taking down a conspiracy of both black and white-run mobs in Harlem. Never one to let red tape get in his way, John Shaft goes against the law many times to finish his job, refusing to identify himself as a police officer, making deals with criminals, exercising extreme force in a number of fights, and allowing a mobster to fall out of a window “by accident.”

Dirty Harry (1971)
Clint Eastwood as Dirty Harry Warner Bros.

Dirty Harry, the first and best of the Dirty Harry series, is the ultimate rogue cop movie. Throughout the movie, Harry is reprimanded by his superiors for unnecessarily running up the body count, getting his partners killed, causing expensive property damage, and for using tactics not befitting of a police officer. The movie follows Harry on the hunt for a psychopathic killer (based loosely on the real life Zodiac killer) who is tearing up the streets of San Francisco.

Asked to turn in his badge for all the damage he’s caused, Harry eventually turns into a vengeful vigilante, taking out his target in cold blood. Although it is a common theme in many of the movies on this list, no movie detective goes to the extremes of blurring the line between cop and criminal quite like detective Harry Callahan.

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‘I am officially off the market’: When Margot Robbie revealed she made the ‘conscious’ decision of not dating actors

Margot Robbie revealed her decision to not date actors because of the media scrutiny that came with a public relationship of two high-profile actors
Back in 2015, A-lister Margot Robbie made a declaration that she would not be dating any actors. The actress may have alluded to her fiance Tom Ackerley, who she married the following year in 2016. In an exclusive interview with Marie Claire, she revealed that being in a relationship as an actor herself came with its own set of challenges. She believed that dating someone who was popular would add on to the media scrutiny.

Margot Robbie opened up on why she made a conscious decision to not date actorsTalking to Marie Claire, she claimed, “I am officially off the market.” She then shared the reasoning behind her decision and added, “I made a conscious decision not to date actors.” She continued to explain, “But not because I hate actors. That’s a nasty generalization to make, and that’s not the case. People take such an interest in your love life when you have a profile, it puts a lot of stress on a relationship.”
The Barbie actress continued, “So two people with profiles, I figure it’s just double the amount of scrutiny, and I’d like to avoid that at all costs.” This came after reports of her locking lips with Tarzan co-star Alexander Skarsgard started making rounds. It was reported that she was caught kissing the actor during the Sundance Film Festival.

Margot Robbie revealed she opted for a minimal lifestyle even after becoming an actorIn the interview, Robbie also opened up about how she was adapting to fame. She shared, “I have a normal 24-year-old life. If I were a waitress, I’d probably have the exact same lifestyle. I’d go to the same clubs I go to already, live in the same house with the same housemates, hang out with the same people.”
However, Margot Robbie tied the knot with Tom Ackerley who is an English producer and actor. The duo met on the sets of 2013 movie Suite Francaise where Tom was working as an assistant director. Post marriage, both of them launched their production company LuckyChap Entertainment.

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Monica Bellucci and Tin Burton at lunch in the restaurant in Selci Lama

For All Saints’ Day, the Hollywood star from Tiferno returned to his native Umbria to enjoy a moment of relaxation and then visit his parentsOn the occasion of the All Saints’ Day celebrations, the Hollywood star of Tiferno origin, Monica Bellucci, returned to her native Umbria to enjoy a moment of relaxation and to visit her father Pasquale and her mother Brunella.Flanked by her current partner Tim Burton, she went to lunch, together with about twenty old friends, at the Osteria del Musicista, which has always been her favorite restaurant, in Selci Lama.Menu dedicated to typical dishes of the area, which includes an appetizer with breadsticks lined with coppa, duck in porchetta and grilled pork livers, polenta with wild boar sauce accompanied by the very typical cappelletti in broth.To conclude, a dessert based on fried “ciaccia” with Nutella and roasted chestnuts.
Having paid the bill and greeted the restaurant owner and lifelong friend, Roberto Polchi, Monica brought home cappelletti and broth for a family dinner.

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‘Rocky’ Was Quite Different In His Original Screenplay, Sylvester Stallone Claims

Sylvester Stallone took his friend’s advice on a rewrite of the original screenplay to Rocky. A few tweaks later, he was on his way to major success.
In the new Netflix documentary Sly, Stallone discussed how he initially conceived of the project, which had a much harder edge. In the early version, Rocky was depicted as a “thuggish” character, inspired by Martin Scorsese’s crime drama, Mean Streets.

But Stallone’s perspective changed when a friend read the script and thought the boxer was too cruel for audiences to actually care about him.
Stallone recalled her crying.

“She goes, ‘I hate Rocky. I hate him. He’s cruel. He hits people. He beats them up.’”
Stallone took it to heart, and asked what he could do to soften the character.

“I said, ‘what if you stop short of it?’ Like, maybe he almost did. He could have, that’s his job, but he doesn’t?’ ‘That’d be nice,’” he added. “I said, ‘What if he had a girlfriend or something?’ ‘Yeah, that’s nice.’ So I go back, start writing that: ‘Girlfriend. Nice.’”
$117 million in box office later, a franchise was born.

Stallone also revealed that actor Dolph Lundgren sent him to the hospital during one fight scene in Rocky IV.
“Dolph Lundgren… he pulverized me,” Stallone says in the documentary. “Later that night, my heart started to swell—which happens when the heart hits the chest—and then my blood pressure went up to 260, and they thought I was going to be talking to angels. Next thing I know, I’m in intensive care, where I’m surrounded by nuns, and I thought, ‘OK, that’s curtains.’”
Stallone was in the hospital for nine days following the incident, praying for “one more round.”
“For the first minute of the fight, it is going to be a free-for-all,” Stallone told Lundgren. The Swedish actor joked in a separate interview that all he did was “obey orders,” explaining, “[Stallone] was the boss. I did what he told me.”
Doctors allegedly told Stallone that he received a blow to the ribs that made his heart rattle around in his ribcage, a condition typically seen in head-on collisions. “I did hit a bus, of sorts,” Stallone joked.

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