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Street Kings
5 reviews

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Movie Details

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Directed By
David Ayer

Written By:
James Ellroy, Kurt Wimmer, Jamie Moss, Jamie Moss

Keanu Reeves, Hugh Laurie, Forest Whitaker, Chris Evans, Amaury Nolasco, Terry Crews, Common, Naomie Harris, Jay Mohr, Cedric the Entertainer, Martha Higareda, Patrick Gallagher, Kate Clarke, Kenneth Choi, Garret Sato, Michael Monks, Aaron MacPherson, Geoffrey Gould, Kevin Benton, Joanne Chew, Angela Sun, Kirstin Pierce, Siobhan Parisi, Cle Shaheed Sloan, Kami Jones, Dennis Nusbaum, Amy Dudgeon

Street Kings (2008)
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Movie Review by Jarrod
April 12th, 2008

'Street Kings' is a fairly predictable cop thriller, gritty and violent; it works well as an action flick, but is more about deception and the seemingly endless corruption within the ranks of the LAPD. Director David Ayer wrote the screenplays for both Training Day and Dark Blue, so he knows this material well, but does not really make it that interesting. Keanu Reeves is Tom Ludlow, who likes to use excessive force on suspected criminals, and while this is unethical, he is not involved in any other kind of illicit activities. He is an alcoholic and a racist; at one point, he guns down a group of Korean hoods, after slinging an ethnic slur at them.

These aspects of his personality are eventually disposed of, and we see him as more of a vigilante; and then an effort is made to explain his behavior: he is still grieving over his dead wife, and this is one reason why his superior, Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker) is sympathetic and forgiving. Ludlow is implicated in the murder of a cop named Terrence Washington (Terry Crews), who is shot during a convenience store robbery, while Ludlow is in the area. He sets out to prove his innocence, with the help Paul Diskant (Chris Evans), a rookie who has much to learn. Wander stays on his side for the most part, but not Captain Biggs (Hugh Laurie), who is rotten to the core, along with just about everybody else; in fact, Tom is probably the cleanest of them all. Cedric the Entertainer is Scribble, a drug dealer who provides Tom with lots of information, which he gathers from the streets, even though Tom knows the streets pretty well. There is quite an impressive cast here, but Reeves is surprisingly the stand-out in one of his best performances in a long time. It is intense and convincing.

Whitaker and Laurie are also effective, but sometimes seem curiously detached, and their roles are not fleshed out that well, though Biggs is a character one instinctively knows is bad, and Laurie plays him as an a**hole and a jerk, much like Dr. House. Evans is forgettable, and so too are the somewhat disposable female roles, filled by Martha Higareda as Tom's girlfriend and Naomie Harris as Washington's widow. Most anyone who watches this and it is rather entertaining, at least for men, will feel cheated and slighted by the ending, which was apparently not thought out too extensively and suffers from an obvious lack of attention. It almost feels like the three credited screenwriters could not agree on a conclusion and just came up with something for the heck of it, to reach a clumsy compromise of some sort. This is also another movie with a surplus of rappers who think they can make a name for themselves on the big screen.

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