The iconic undercover tandem of Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs aside, these five undercover cops movies are worth keeping to yourself. Unless you’re a rat, of course. Full of action, suspense, intrigue and betrayal the films on this list are sure to keep you straight. After all, you never know who’s watching.
“The Departed” (2006).
Jack Nicolson as a gangster, Leo DiCaprio as an undercover cop pretending to be a gangster and Matt Damon as an undercover gangster pretending to be a cop. Mark Wahlberg also plays a cop walking a fine line between the right and wrong side of the law. Keeping track of the players in this piece is like trying to count cards in a crowded Vegas casino. Cops and crooks or crooks and cops; you’ll never know until the very end.
“Donnie Brasco” (1997).
This whole movie can be summed up in a postcard with 20 bucks in it that Pacino’s character never got to give to the big Italian boss. Something is definitely wrong when Michael Madsen is higher up on the mobster food chain than Al Pacino and “Captain Jack” Johnny Depp is the underworld golden boy. In this case, Depp is a deep cover undercover agent in this story based on true life.
“Deep Cover” (1992).
Figure Jeff Goldblum as a drug dealer and Larry Fishburne in his pre-Morpheus days, before he morphed into a well-fed-looking CSI detective. This film kept the beat of the street and maintained a social conscience as it ambled toward its climatic drug deal. Fishburne’s character got a little confused but never crossed all the way over to the dark side in this undercover cop movie.
If all cops did as many drugs as the narcs in this film, everything would have to be legalized. Jason Patric and Jennifer Jason Leigh almost lose themselves in this undercover cop movie based on a true story. In their quest to put away a big southern drug dealer, this pair sinks as deep down the rabbit hole as the needle goes. Patric’s performance is mesmerizing and amazingly convincing as narc turned addict, turned narc again. Eric Clapton’s score is as riveting as the performances in this tense thriller.
Contrary to the title this movie is no easy ride. Leather hats, chaps, studs and colored bandanas are all part of the costume that Al Pacino dons as an undercover cop trafficking in the “rough trade” S&M homosexual underground of the East Village in the early 80’s NYC, trying to catch a killer preying on gay men. Whether he looks like a cop or not remains in question and there are times when he seems tempted by the “other side.” He ultimately catches the killer, but seems forever changed by the things he’s seen, the people he’s been around and the emotions he can’t shake.