John Wayne Tactics

The phrase "John Wayne" Tactics is used to refer to particularly reckless policing, particularly situations where an officer charges headlong into a dangerous confrontation with little regard for their own safety or the consequences of their actions, their only concern being the apprehension of the suspects involved. The name comes from the actor John Wayne, who would often employ a rash approach to hostile situations in his films (particularly his Westerns). Often his only goal was to rescue a protagonist or arrest/kill the antagonist, regardless of the odds stacked against him, his chances of success, or the legality of his actions.

"Dirty" Harry Callahan operates almost exclusively through John Wayne tactics.

Examples of John Wayne's own "John Wayne" tactics can be seen in his movies Rio Bravo, El Dorado, Rio Lobo, The Searchers, and many others. Another famous user of John Wayne tactics, perhaps the most famous aside from the man himself, is Clint Eastwood, particularly in his Dirty Harry series of films; his line "Go ahead, make my day..." while pointing his revolver point-blank at a suspect threatening a hostage (from the fourth film, Sudden Impact), can be seen as epitomising the concept of John Wayne tactics. Coincidentally, the Season 5 Miami Vice episode "Over the Line" had a plot very similar to the second Dirty Harry film, Magnum Force.

Use in Miami Vice

Miami Vice featured several examples of John Wayne tactics:

  • "Smuggler's Blues" -- Jimmy Cole says he isn't John Wayne when referring to his aversion to the use of violence.
  • "The Maze" -- referring to Tim Duryea's tactics, first rushing the Escobars on the street (an act that leads to the death of his partner) and then charging into The Maze after the brothers.
  • "Evan" -- Crockett tells how his partner Mike Orgel charged an intoxicated man waving a shotgun and was subsequently killed (though it is revealed to be an intentional suicide rather than an attempt at an arrest).
  • "Whatever Works" -- Zito suggests storming Davila's house to arrest him, to which Switek responds, "Storm the house? What are you, John Wayne?"
  • "Sons and Lovers" -- Crockett goes in as Tubbs' only backup in an attempt to save his partner's girlfriend Angelina and son Ricardo, Jr..
  • "Sons and Lovers" -- Tubbs later charges Walt Harrison, the man responsible for the deaths of Angelina and his son, as he attempted to flee by car.
  • "Borrasca" -- Reese tells Castillo, "Sure enough, you got your guys out there right now playing John Wayne."
  • "Miami Squeeze" -- Congresswoman Madelyn Woods says, "Not everyone wants to play John Wayne and carry a pistol around all the time!"
  • "Freefall" -- Stan Switek confronts Caesar Montoya's men alone and outnumbered, knowing he has "nothing to lose".
  • "Freefall" -- Crockett and Tubbs confront General Borbon and his numerous government agent bodyguards without official sanction or backup.
  • Miami Vice film -- Tubbs is shown to resort to somewhat risky tactics on several occasions, charging Neptune when he sees him beating one of his girls in The Mansion, hazardously posing as an unarmed pizza delivery man to gain access the trailer where Trudy Joplin is being held, and assaulting José Yero and his thugs alone in their final confrontation.
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