Street Kings

Street Kings


Reviewed by: Maria Realf

With his Oscar-winning turn in The Last King Of Scotland and another larger-than-life performance in Street Kings, Forest Whitaker has been busy cementing his reputation as Hollywood royalty. Once again, he steals the show in David Ayer’s corrupt-cop thriller focusing on brotherhood and betrayal in the LAPD.

Keanu Reeves takes on the lead role of Tom Ludlow, a troubled detective who’s struggling after the death of his wife. Like others in his unit – led by the charismatic Captain Wander (Whitaker) – Ludlow isn’t afraid to dish out his own brand of justice if he feels it’s warranted.

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When evidence seems to implicate him in the killing of another officer, Ludlow enlists the help of young detective Diskant (Chris Evans) to crack the case. Together the pair unravel a tangled web of corruption – but who can they trust when the boundaries between cops and criminals have become so badly blurred?

Considering the calibre of the team behind this movie and their track record in the genre (helmer David Ayer wrote the superior Training Day, while story writer and co-screenwriter James Ellroy was the novelist behind LA Confidential), Street Kings had the potential to be the film of 2008. Sadly it doesn’t live up to this promise, although it remains a reasonably enjoyable, if somewhat predictable, action thriller.

There are enough edgy sequences to maintain some sense of momentum (including a couple of dramatic shoot-outs), and at a watchable 107 minutes, the film doesn’t drag. But you can’t help feeling that you’ve seen most of it before – done just that little bit better.

The presence of Whitaker is one of the movie’s saving graces, and he puts in a spirited performance that overshadows the rest of the cast. Reeves spends the entire film looking permanently perplexed (although it’s hard to tell if that’s because his character is meant to be confused or if his acting only extends to the one blank expression), and lacks the raw magnetism he displayed in Point Break.

There’s support from a number of familiar faces, including Amaury Nolasco (Sucre from Prison Break), John Corbett (Aidan from Sex And The City) and Hugh Laurie (House from… er, House), though the latter is especially unconvincing as an Internal Affairs captain who’s hot on Ludlow’s heels.

Moreover, the sheer volume of secondary characters in a fairly short film means that you never truly care about any of them. In particular, it would have been worth seeing more interaction between Ludlow and the murdered officer’s widow, played well by an under-used Naomie Harris. All in all, this isn’t the most arresting cop thriller you’ll ever see, but it’s adequate Friday-night fare for fans of the genre.

Reviewed on: 17 Apr 2008
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A lone cop goes up against a corrupt system.
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Director: David Ayer

Writer: James Ellroy, Kurt Wimmer

Starring: Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Martha Higareda, Cedric the Entertainer, Amaury Nolasco, Naomie Harris, John Corbett

Year: 2008

Runtime: 107 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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If you like this, try:

The Departed
Training Day