Bullet Points: To Protect and Serve
In this edition of Bullet Points, I take you back to 1992 and the C. Thomas Howell cop movie, To Protect and Serve.
Howell was big in the 80’s, he had roles in E.T., The Outsiders, Red Dawn and who could ever forget the classic known as Soul Man.
But C. Thomas Howell as a tough cop in Los Angeles? This was definitely new territory for him…
- The Premise: Howell plays homicide detective Egan, who happens to witness a group of cops abusing their power. The dirty cops take turns beating a suspect with their nightsticks until ultimately they kill him. This particular group of cops already have been on the radar of internal affairs. They shake down drug dealers and pimps to pad their own pockets… their excuse, the system doesn’t work, so they are taking advantage of it. Internal affairs taps Egan to help them build their case against these dirty cops and bring them down.
- Loose Cannon: Egan may not have the reputation of being a dirty cop, but he definitely is known as a loose cannon. So his captain, Captain Malouf (played by Richard Romanus of Murphy’s Law fame) does what any captain would do in the movies, he assigns Egan a partner, but not just any partner, it is an ex-girlfriend of his, Harriet McAllister. This cop movie cliche is made even more ironic, because one of the first lines Malouf utters is “This is not a movie Egan and you’re not Robocop.”
- Ten Little Indians: One by one all the dirty cops end up murdered… but who is doing the murdering? Obviously cops like that have made some enemies. But could it be that Egan is growing tired of the long drawn out internal affairs process and wants to bring these extortionists posing as police officers to justice swiftly?
To Protect and Serve is more cop thriller than it is action movie, so don’t expect a lot of car chases, big shoot outs and explosions. There are some quality death scenes, but not over the top horror movie death scenes. The movie held my interest for the duration of its 92 minute runtime and most importantly, I bought C. Thomas Howell as a cop. That believability was essential to this movie sinking or swimming in my book.
Here are a few more To Protect and Serve Bullet Points…
- Familiar Faces: Action movie fans will instantly recognize Teddy B. (Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter) from his roles in movies like Marked for Death and Only the Strong. And they may also recognize Officer Stewart (Thomas F. Duffy) as Nirvana from Death Wish 2. Interestingly enough, while Nirvana was the last thug to get killed in Death Wish 2, he was the first dirty cop to die in To Protect and Serve.
- Locker Room Quote: “Maybe it’s about time somebody wiped your ass.”
- Beverly Hills Cop: Was Howell channeling his inner Axel Foley by supporting a Detroit professional sports franchise?
- Was There Any Doubt?: When former lovers Egan and McCallister are put together as partners if for even one second you doubted the two would hook up again at some point in the movie, then this must be the first movie you ever watched.