5 Cleverest Detectives in Films

In many thriller films regarding crimes, some pretty sharp sleuths make appearances. In this article, we will be counting down five of the cleverest detectives in films.

This list is unranked, as are the majority of my other lists. I will try my very best to not include major spoilers for the films these five cleverest detectives appear in, but nonetheless, I’d suggest watching the films first.

Jake Gittes (Chinatown)

Five Cleverest Detectives in Films

Roman Polanski’s Chinatown is one of the best noir films of its time. One of the main characters of the film is the private detective, Jake Gittes, played by the brilliant Jack Nicholson.

In the film, he starts investigating what appears to be an adultery case, but he uncovers a heinous plot that has to do with some of the wealthiest people in Los Angeles. He’s extremely charismatic and driven to uncover details of cases he takes on. Sometimes, he even crosses legal boundaries to find evidence for various crimes.

Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes)

Five Cleverest Detectives in Films

Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes is one of the better-known and popular detective films. And of course, the list would be sorely incomplete if I didn’t include the most well-known and legendary detective of them all. One might suggest the inclusion of Mr. Holmes from the 1939 film, too, and it’s also highly recommended.

To people who might’ve watched these films, further introduction to this almost inhumanly intelligent detective is unneeded. His methods of investigation are seen as odd by some, and it’s as if he’s obsessed. Indeed, Sherlock Holmes considers being a detective a very important part of his life, and it’s not just a profession for him.

Lisbeth Salander (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)

Lisbeth is primarily a hacker, and a genius one at that. But in this film by David Fincher, she’s shown to be a formidable investigator as well. Her intelligence is exceptional and despite her asocial and reticent manner, she always successfully finds out what she wants.

A rather complex character, Lisbeth is mentally rather sick and is under watch. Despite being different from the majority, she’s rather special in her mannerisms and genius ways of hacking and investigation.

Lt. Vincent Hanna (Heat)

Michael Mann’s Heat is often described as a modern masterpiece of cinema. It’s a narrative-heavy crime drama featuring a cast of masterfully written characters. One of them, and the ‘good guy’ of the film is Vincent Hanna.

One thing he and Sherlock Holmes have in common is how they both consider being detectives something more than just a profession. With meticulous attention to detail and expert methodology for catching criminals, Hanna is truly one of the most iconic characters from a Michael Mann film.

Clarice Starling (The Silence of the Lambs)

The immensely suspenseful thriller masterpiece The Silence of the Lambs is truly a classic. In this disturbing tale featuring a well-mannered yet extremely dangerous cannibal named Hannibal Lector, the young prodigy of a detective that’s Clarice Starling is the one who investigates a series of murders committed by an unknown assailant who was once known to Lector. Despite being relatively amateur in the FBI, Clarice constantly proves herself to be immensely resourceful.

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