Dirty Cop Films – From Bad Lieutenant to L.A. Confidential

Now showing in Irish cinemas, ‘Triple 9’, follows a group of dirty cops as they attempt to pull off a massive heist. In anticipation, we’re taking a look back at some of our favourite bad cop films through the years.

Directed by acclaimed filmmaker John Hillcoat, ‘Triple 9′ is an intense, adrenaline-fuelled thriller featuring an incredible all-star cast in Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Kate Winslet, Woody Harrelson, Norman Reedus, Aaron Paul, Anthony Mackie and Gal Gadot.

When a crew of dirty cops is blackmailed by the Russian mob to execute a virtually impossible heist, they realise the only way to pull it off is to manufacture a ‘triple 9’, U.S police code for ‘officer down’. The chaos that ensues when a police officer is shot in the line of duty is just the diversion they’ll need to do the job, but whether they have the guts to kill one of their own is another matter. Their plan is turned upside down when the attack is unexpectedly foiled, triggering a breakneck, action packed finale fuelled with betrayal, greed and revenge.




After much deliberation, our top five are;


Internal Affairs (1990)

When young detective Raymond Avila (Andy Garcia) joins the Internal Affairs Department of the Los Angeles police, he and his partner Amy Wallace soon sense something offhand about the financial activity of cop Dennis Peck (Richard Gere). Knowing he is being watched, Peck starts playing manipulative mind games to throw the young detectives off their game.


Training Day (2001)

This gritty drama takes place during the course of one day, when rookie cop Jake Hoyt (Ethan Hawke) is sent a on a 24 hour training course with narcotics officer Detective Sergeant Alonzo Harris (Denzel Washington). Accustomed to working in the highest crime areas of the city, Harris exposes Hoyt to the reality of policing the streets, teaching ethically questionable tactics to fight crime.


Bad Lieutenant (1992)

A corrupt, unnamed homicide detective (Harvey Keitel) is in a downward spiral of drugs, alcohol, hookers and gambling when he is tasked with investigating a young nun’s rape. This case may be his last shot at redemption before his addictions and enemies catch up with him.

Touch of Evil (1958)

Whilst on his honeymoon in a Mexican border town, Narcotics Officer Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston) is pulled into a local bombing investigation when a bomb on the US side of the border kills an American building contractor. In the course of the investigation Vargas continually finds himself coming up against local police chief Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles) whose only concern is his perfect arrest record regardless of whether the right man is in cuffs.

L.A. Confidential (1997)

As corruption grows in 1950s LA, three policemen investigate a series of murders with their own brand of justice. Lt. Ed Exley (Guy Pearce), Officer Bud White (Russell Crowe) and Vice Cop Vicennes (Kevin Spacey) conduct parallel investigations into the Nite Owl Massacre which leads them to a massive conspiracy within their department that could bring the LAPD to its knees.