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Detective Alonzo Harris
Played By: Denzel Washington
- 0% Approval Rating: Despite the power and sway he holds in the community, nobody likes this guy and for good reason. He becomes a Broken Pedestal to Jake, the Three Wise Men aren't particularly fond of him, the gangsters in Baldwin Village get fed up with his behavior and decide enough is enough, and even the guys he hired to kill Jake eventually opt not to do it.
- Asshole Victim: It's hard to feel sorry for him even as he barely clings to life before being finished off by the Russian mobsters sent to kill him. Before that, nobody in the neighborhood cared about him for real and didnt want him to succeed in paying off the Russians.
- Bad Boss: Between holding a gun to Jake's head, forcing him to smoke marijuana laced with PCP and leaving him at the home of several gangbangers to have him killed? More than counts.
- Big Bad: Becomes the main antagonist of the film after he attempts to have Jake killed by the Latino gang.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Gives an emotional, kind and fatherly speech to Jake about the nature of police corruption and how Jake can make a real difference to the world. This would be a heartwarming moment, except 5 seconds earlier he was on the phone secretly arranging for Jake to be violently murdered. He doesn't mean a single word that he's saying.
- Break the Haughty: The way Alonzo swans around town, you'd think he's untouchable. He loses his smug confidence after being shot in the ass by Jake and realizing how serious he is.
- Catchphrase: "You wanna go to jail, or you wanna go home?"
- The Chessmaster: He manipulates events and people like pawns to get the outcome he wants. As he states to Jake:
"This shit's chess, it ain't checkers!"
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: He endlessly manipulates and betrays others based on what benefits him.
- Cool Car: His 1979 Chevy Monte Carlo, complete with hydraulics. It's sexy.
- Cowboy Cop: A rare villainous version. Tends to favor street justice rather than criminal justice when he actually does dispense it.
- Death by Irony: He repeatedly threatens Jake with the possibility of him being killed while responding to a call, leaving behind his family, to get him to fall in line with Alonzo's methods. After he is shot and killed by the Russians, the reports over his death show that the official story is that he died while responding to a call, leaving behind his family.
- Deconstructed Character Archetype: Of the Cowboy Cop. Alonzo bends and breaks the rules to get his man and will engage in vigilantism if it helps him serve justice. The result is that he's a sociopath whose just as bad as the criminals he fights, and is corrupt to boot.
- Dirty Cop: Alonzo is more gangster than cop.
- Dirty Coward: Take away his gun and badge, and this is all he is. The minute his life is in danger, he chooses to run away or beg for his life. Jake and the other gang members realize this, and decide that hes not worth killing.
- Disproportionate Retribution: When Jake refuses to smoke a pipe of marijuana, Alonzo immediately holds a gun to his head to get him to smoke it. It's implied that this kind of behavior has been going on for a while, and backfired on him when he beat a member of the Russian Mafia to death for insulting him.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Alonzo might be a remorseless killer, but he draws the line at rapists.
- Evil Mentor: To Jake until he rejects Alonzo's method of mentoring. It's implied that he was one to some of the other dirty cops in his little inner circle.
- Faux Affably Evil: Alonzo Harris might just be the poster boy. He's intelligent, charismatic, magnetic and can turn on the charm like few others. Even when he acts like a jerk and commits violent acts, he has a way of spinning them so it seems like he's just a realist who is ultimately on the side of good. The truth is that he's a savage killer who cares only for himself.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Alonzo has made himself pretty valuable to his fellow cops and the gangbangers on the street through virtue of his own power and cunning, but none of them like him at all. This eventually comes back to bite him in the ass.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Deconstructed. Alonzo gets murderously enraged over tiny things, which is best shown when he holds a gun to Jakes head for refusing to smoke marijuana out of a pipe. However, this attitude causes EVERYONE to hate him as a result, including his fellow cops. His bad temper also caused him to unknowingly kill a member of the Russian Mafia in Las Vegas, forcing him to gather $1 million to save his own life.
- Hate Sink: Denzel Washington definitely deserves an Oscar for making sure his character is so despised that the audience would be beyond satisfied watching him get his just desserts at the end by getting gunned down by the Russians.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Oh, absolutely. The writer himself described Alonzo as not a dirty cop in the traditional sense, but rather someone who has essentially gotten too good at his job.
- I Own This Town: At least, until the finale.
- It's All About Me: In the end, Alonzo's first priority is himself.
- Jerkass: Definitely. In spite of his charismatic front, at the end of the day Alonzo is a selfish, egotistical, cruel sociopath with a truly violent temper that is willing to kill anyone to get his way.
- Kick the Dog: His cold-blooded murder of Roger.
- Killer Cop: He's basically a murderous criminal with a badge.
- Large Ham: Completely chews the scenery every time hes on screen. You can tell Denzel Washington had a lot of fun with the role.
- Laser-Guided Karma: He's gunned down by The Mafiya as a direct result of his temper, but even before that his actions catch up with him when the gangbangers he manipulates turn on him.
- Manipulative Bastard: In spades. Harris manipulates everyone with his charisma and intelligence, but eventually he can't keep it going.
- Moral Myopia: Seems to think that any means are justified as long as a criminal is taken down. Even if it means he spends almost all his time committing crimes worse than the criminals themselves, up to and including premeditated murder.
- Multiple Gunshot Death: Hes ruthlessly gunned down by the Russian Mafia when he cant pay them the money.
- Oh, Crap!: First when the neighborhood abandons him, and then when he realizes the Russians are about to kill him.
- Rabid Cop: He'll threaten any criminal he catches and tends to use excessive violence when subduing suspects, even having paralyzed Blue when he shot him for unknown reasons and threatening to cut off a rapist's balls, only relenting because he had a schedule to keep.
- Sadist: He takes great pleasure in threatening criminals and innocents alike, relishing in their fear and pain. After Alonzo shoots Roger in the chest, he mockingly tells him to breathe so itll hurt more.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!: He works for the Three Wise Men, high-ranking corrupt cops who begrudgingly protect Alonzo.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: Being a raging egotist, Alonzo considers himself a king on the street where he's outside culpability for his actions.
- Secret Test of Character: Half of his actions are interpreted by Jake as this. They're not.
- Shot in the Ass: By Jake.
- Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Alonzo Harris is a deconstruction of this trope. He might seem like a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who's trying to prepare Jake for the dog-eat-dog reality of policing the street, but the reality is that he's just trying to corrupt him. When that doesn't work, he easily discards him and reveals the depth of his own depravity.
- The Sociopath: At the end of the day, despite all his charisma and some seemingly sympathetic qualities that's what he really is. A corrupt, ruthless and amoral man only concerned about his well being and who sees everyone around him as expendable.
- There Are Two Kinds of People in the World: He gives this speeches out to Jake like candy.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: The Russian Mafia shoot Alonzo roughly a million times.
- Training from Hell: He holds a gun to Jake's head, drags him into dangerous situations, and tricks him into smoking PCP-laced marijuana...on his first day.
- Undignified Death: He spends his last moments futilely and pathetically trying to flee from the Russians before being gunned down.
- Villain with Good Publicity: He's a decorated veteran officer whose corruption has been kept under wraps. It's no longer the case by the TV sequel, which is set long after his death.
- Villainous Breakdown: Alonzo has an absolutely epic breakdown when Jake finally bests him. He stops all pretence of being an tough-but-fair mentor and realist, and winds up ranting at the neighborhood he controlled about how ungrateful they are. He's practically frothing at the mouth.
- Villainous Legacy: By the time the TV sequel starts, his case is used by the LAPD Academy to teach prospective careers that by following his actions, it can effectively end your career.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He frequently tries to push this as his motivation, but the reality is that he's more self-serving than well-intentioned.
Officer Jake Hoyt
Played By: Ethan Hawke
- Beware the Nice Ones: He's an honest and likable cop but it's shown various times that it's not a good idea understimate him. This is shown when he fends off two addicts who tried to rape a girl, he punches Paul for having keep on suggesting Alonzo to kill him and he even remorselessly leaves Alonzo to be killed by the Russians after injuring him by shooting him in his backside. In his defense the latter really deserves that.
- Deadpan Snarker: He occasionaly utters some dry and sarcastic quotes. Justified cosidering all the Crapsack World he lives into.
"What happened was murder...and armed robbery. Wait, we had badges, so it's different?"
- Determinator: He suffers many injures and bruises. While that slows him down a little it doesn't seem to stop him at all.
- The Dog Bites Back: After being manipulated and set up by Alonzo the whole time he finally reacts by defeating his corrupt instructor once and for all and leaving him to his death by taking the money Alonzo was supposed to give to the Russians.
- Happily Married: We can see from the movie's beginning that he lives a decent and good life with his wife and baby daughter.
- The Hero: The movie is essentially his growth from a Naïve Newcomer to a fair and balanced cop.
- Naïve Newcomer: He grows out of it admirably though.
- Took a Level in Badass: At the end definitely after having walk alone in a gang-ridden neighborhood to face Alonzo despite the latter's warning to never come there by himself and putting his more skilled and trained mentor to the ground.
- Token Good Teammate: The only non-corrupt member of Alonzo's team.
Played By: Eva Mendes
- Ms. Fanservice: Her only role in the film is to serve as Alonzo's attractive mistress. There's even a full frontal nude scene of her just for good measure.
Played By: Scott Glenn
- Affably Evil: Despite being a feared drug lord, hes the most friendly and genial character in the film.
Smiley, Sniper & Moreno
Played By: Cliff Curtis, Raymond Cruz & Noel Gugliemi
- The Bus Came Back: Moreno is a recurring character throughout the television sequel.
Detectives Paul, Tim Wallace, Mark, and Jeff
- Back for the Finale: Tim shows up again in the finale of the series, where it turns out that he killed Billy Craig.
- Back for the Dead: Tim in the finale of the series, when he gets killed by Kyle for killing his father.
- Beard of Evil: Tim sports a beard and is corrupt through and through.
- Churchgoing Villain: Jeff is praying on the floor after the bullet pierces his vest. This is just after he joked about needing some time off, right after his complicity in a murder.
- Jerkass: Tim and Paul.
The Three Wise Men