The Best Stakeout Scenes In Film


What’s a good crime film without a proper stakeout scene? To celebrate Dragged Across Concrete (on Blu-ray and DVD now) and starring Vince Vaughn and Mel Gibson, we delve into some of the best stakeout scenes in film.

The Naked Gun
When you’re on a stake-out, certain elements are key – binoculars, maybe a walkie-talkie, and of course…snacks! Frank Drebin (Leslie Nielsen) and Ed Hocken are seen snacking on red pistachios whilst regarding their culprit. The gag here comes at the ending of this scene, which sees Frank struggling to open the car door upon leaving, due to a massive pile of pistachio shells that they’ve racked up between them on the ground.

The beginning of Drive has long been hailed as one of the best opening scenes in movie history. This is a different scenario to the other stakeout scenes on this list, as the stakeout in this case is undertaken by someone staking out the police while the police are searching for them. Between the beautifully cinematic shots and the intense soundtrack, Drive is a very worthy winner of its place on this list.

No prize for guessing this one. Stakeout is the quintessential, well…. “stakeout” movie. It includes all the trappings of a stakeout classic – an unlikely buddy-cop pairing, plenty of time scoping out the suspect’s house and a heap load of comedic misunderstanding, but its cast of Richard Dreyfuss, Emilio Estevez, Madeleine Stow and Forest Whitaker managed to elevate the film above the slew of crime-comedy flicks which dominated the box-office in the late 80s. One particularly memorable scene sees Dreyfuss’s character snuffed out by the woman he is tracking, but who he has also fallen in love with.

Beverly Hills Cop
An 80’s classic, the Beverly Hills Cop stakeout scene sees snacks come into play once again when Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy) arranges for a world class dinner to be delivered to the car holding Detective Billy Rosewood and Sgt. Taggart (Judge Reinhold and John Ashton), who are sat there in a stakeout trying to catch him. Distracting Reinhold with the delicious food, Foley can make his escape and get out of their sight, all accompanied by the synthetic sounds of the iconic Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack.

Ride Along 2
Being on the lookout for someone takes concentration, determination and more than anything – peace and quiet – which is what makes this scene from Ride Along 2 hilarious. While James Payton (Ice-Cube) and Maya (Olivia Munn) are on a stakeout, they are unfortunate enough to be stuck with Ben Barber and AJ (Kevin Hart and Ken Jeong), who think that arguing about which Star Wars film is the best is more important than the actual task at hand.

The Watch
If you place Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughan, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade in a car, you can be sure hilarity will ensue. In The Watch, these four makeup the suburban neighbourhood watch group tasked with preventing an alien life force infiltrating their local community. As they follow the alien intruders’ trail, they find themselves holed up outside a shopping warehouse, monitoring it for extra-terrestrial activity. It doesn’t take long before Vince Vaughn’s character Bob asks the question – which everyone who has watched a stakeout movie has probably considered – where do they go to the toilet?

Horrible Bosses (2011)
Rule number one of a car stakeout is to be subtle. Someone obviously forgot to tell Dale (Charlie Day) this rule in 2011’s Horrible Bosses, resulting in what is easily the funniest moment in the film. We see Dale rocking out to The Ting Ting’s “That’s Not My Name” while on the lookout for anything suspicious, unbeknownst to him that the man he is supposed to be keeping an eye out for is staring right at him.

Who can forget Danny DeVito as the dastardly father, Harry Wormwood, in the children’s classic Matilda?! This dodgy car salesman ends up in hot water when the cops turn up outside their family home, staking out the property. Despite some sage warning from his daughter Matilda, Harry sides with his wife’s declaration: “You are such an ignoramus – those aren’t cops, those are speedboat salesman!”.

Rear Window
OK, let’s get this out of the way. Rear Window does not involve a car, so there may be some who disagree with its inclusion on the list. But could you really have a list of the best stakeouts in cinema history without the film which laid the foundation for the genre? It’s not just a scene in Rear Window that includes a stakeout, it’s the whole film! Trapped in an apartment with a broken leg, Jeff (Jimmy Stewart) has nothing to do other than observe the world going by, through his obnoxiously large binoculars. Unfortunately, what he sees includes some pretty unsavoury characters and it’s not long before Jeff is dragged down from his comfortable, voyeuristic perch to the pandemonium unfolding below.

Dragged Across Concrete
Vince Vaughn makes a second appearance on this list, in Dragged Across Concrete. Here, Vaughn plays Anthony Lurasetti, a disgraced police officer who having been dismissed from the force, plans to intercept a drug heist along with his former partner, the volatile Brett Ridgeman (Mel Gibson). The two embark on an unofficial stakeout, complete with a noisily-eaten breakfast sandwich, before pursuing the robbers in this high-action thriller.

Dragged Across Concrete is out on Blu-ray and DVD now


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