The Angry Police Captain: The Movie Cop’s Greatest Foil

Will Perkins

trading in Hong Kong In this week's "22 Jump Street," Ice Cube reprises the role of Captain Dickson, continuing the proud Hollywood tradition of police bosses with serious rage issues -- and little to no respect for their officers. As any good angry police captain should, Dickson again makes life a living hell for undercover detectives Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum).

The hilarious role puts Cube in very good company. Here are a few of the most memorable angry police captains to ever grace the silver screen.

“Dirty Harry” (1971) – The Mayor (John Vernon)

online trading Though not technically a police captain, the Mayor from the original “Dirty Harry”(memorably played by Canadian actor John Vernon) definitely fits the mold of the angry superior making life difficult for his heroic underling. In this case, that underling is rough and tumble Police Inspector Harry Callahan (Clint Eastwood), who reports directly to the San Francisco mayor on his efforts to catch the feared Scorpio killer. Vernon would go on to play a similarly authoritarian figure as Dean Wormer in 1978’s “Animal House.”

“48 Hrs.” series – Captain Haden (Frank McRae)

trading online As angry police captains go, Captain Haden (Frank McRae) from the “48 Hrs.” movies is about as by-the-book as you can get. Raging? Check. Shouting? Check. Practically rooting for his underlings (Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy) to fail? Double check. McRae’s Captain Haden was so iconic that the actor actually parodied the raging role himself not once but twice, first in the “Lethal Weapon” send-up “Loaded Weapon 1” (1993) and then in action movie satire “Last Action Hero” (1993).

“Lethal Weapon” series – Captain Ed Murphy (Steve Kahan)

Captain Ed Murphy (Steve Kahan) from the “Lethal Weapon” movies is generally more exasperated than angry, but there are certainly a few occasions when the antics of Detectives Riggs (Mel Gibson) and Murtagh (Danny Glover) push him over the line into full-blown anger. Riggs and Murtagh are the proverbial thorn in the Cap’s side for the entire series, a fact made all the more hilarious when Murphy is forced to promote both Riggs and Murtagh to the rank of Captain in “Lethal Weapon 4.”

“Die Hard” (1988) - Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson (Paul Gleason)

Essentially the law enforcement version of his Vice Principal character from “The Breakfast Club,” Paul Gleason’s portrayal of the self-righteous Deputy Police Chief Dwayne T. Robinson in “Die Hard” is one of the most memorable angry police captains ever put to film. Robinson’s decision to repeatedly ignore the advice of John McClane (Bruce Willis) costs numerous lives and makes the Nakatomi Plaza hostage crisis far worse than it needed to be. Then, after basically screwing up for the entire movie, Robinson has the audacity to chew out hero cop McClane for all the damage he caused.

“Die Hard 2” (1990) - Capt. Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz)

It wouldn’t be a “Die Hard” movie if everyone – including the supposed good guys – weren’t against John McClane. In McClane’s second adventure “Die Hard 2,” he butts heads with Dulles Airport Police Captain Carmine Lorenzo (Dennis Franz) over how to best foil terrorists who have taken over the terminal. Lorenzo is unimpressed by McClane’s tactics and stands in our hero’s way at every possible opportunity.

“Point Break” (1991) – FBI Agent Ben Harp (John C. McGinley)

No thanks to suspender-wearing FBI brass Ben Harp (John C. McGinley), Agent Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) is successfully able to infiltrate a gang of surfer bank robbers with a penchant for surfing and skydiving. Despite their efforts, Harp doesn't think highly of Utah or his partner Agent Pappas (Gary Busey), taking every opportunity to talk down to, chew out, or humiliate the two. After a particularly intense shouting match that results in Utah being arrested, Pappa teaches Harp a much-needed lesson in how to respect his elders with a well-earned punch to the face.

“Bad Boys” series – Captain Howard (Joe Pantoliano)

Nobody does angry quite like actor Joe Pantoliano. There’s something very believable about his on-screen rage, particularly when it’s being directed at co-stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in “Bad Boys” (1995) and “Bad Boys II” (2003). As the eternally irritated Captain Howard, Pantoliano spends most of his screen time yelling at the destruction-prone detectives, frequently complaining about the amount of paper work they create for him. While the role is mostly an homage to the angry police captains of the past, Pantoliano deserves special praise for the passion he brings to the role. It's far more effort than these Michael Bay-directed movies deserve.

“Bon Cop, Bad Cop” (2006) – Captain Leboeuf (Pierre Lebeau)

The Quebecois answer to all of the previously listed angry police captains, “Bon Cop, Bad Cop”’s Captain Leboeuf (Pierre Lebeau) is hilariously irate in both French and English. His attempts to scold the bilingual Detectives Bouchard (Patrick Huard) and Ward (Colm Feore) repeatedly fall flat due to his humorous difficulties with the English language.

Though the angry police captain role is pretty much a parody of itself at this point, the tried and true trope isn't going anywhere. As long as there are action movies about police officers, so too will there be police captains ready to shout and rage when things don't work out.

"22 Jump Street" blasts into theatres on June 13.