Although there are more than five cool Detroit movies, these films best display the city’s duality as both a powerful manufacturing epicenter and a forbidding urban environment. Detroit’s concrete scenery is a perfect setting for an intense movie, and it’s further enhanced by the city’s cool and resourceful on-screen residents.

8 Mile.”

Megastar musician Eminem put down his microphone and grabbed a script for this dramatic 2002 film. He plays B-Rabbit, an up-and-coming rapper in Detroit’s hip-hop scene. Mekhi Phifer plays Future, a local MC who offers encouragement and motivation in helping B-Rabbit make it out of the city’s rough neighborhoods. Cameos by rappers  Xzibit, Proof and Obie Trice add to this movie’s cool factor, but the cute female lead Brittany Murphy steals the show as B-Rabbit’s love interest.

“Beverly Hills Cop.”

The funniest of the five cool Detroit movies, Eddie Murphy displays his ample comedic chops in this 1984 release. As the wisecracking Detroit cop Axel Foley, Murphy employs creative and questionably legal methods to bust the bad guys on the mean streets of Detroit. When his longtime friend is murdered after returning to town, Foley uncovers a criminal plot that leads him halfway across the country in a cool and hilarious fish-out-of-water scenario.

The Crow.”

If you’re a fan of the dark and macabre, you’ve probably seen this cool Detroit movie from 1994. The late Brandon Lee stars as Eric Draven, a musician who is killed along with his fiancé on the eve of their Halloween wedding. A year later, Draven is resurrected from the dead by a mysterious crow and searches the streets of Detroit, extracting revenge on his killers. Perhaps the most enduring image from this film is the make-up on Draven’s face, a sad and brooding clown-type design that has served as common Halloween costumes in the years since the movie’s release.


Detroit gets a futuristic overhaul for this 1987 science-fiction movie. During the grim plot, the city is overrun with criminal activity, leading officials to privatize the police force. Law enforcement becomes the jurisdiction of a twisted corporation dedicated to replacing human police officers with robots. Peter Weller plays Alexander Murphy, a recently deceased cop who becomes the half-man, half-robot title character in the corporation’s inaugural experiment. RoboCop prowls the streets of Detroit, using his cool robot weapons and no-nonsense demeanor to restore order to the city.


Of all five cool Detroit movies, this 1997 release is the most often overlooked. Legendary rapper Tupac Shakur turns in the best acting performance of his career as Spoon, a heroin-addicted musician scratching out an artsy living in the clubs of Detroit. Tim Roth plays Stretch, Spoon’s friend, band-mate and fellow drug addict. The pair attempt to kick the habit when their mutual friend dies of an overdose, and the resulting plotlines have them stuck on a treadmill of bureaucracy as they seek help. “Gridlock’d” oozes cool, but it’s also a socially relevant movie. It brings up some poignant issues about the struggles of addicts trying to get clean, while still managing to avoid being preachy and overbearing.