Street Kings (2008)

David Ayer

Keanu Reeves - Detective Tom Ludlow
Forest Whitaker - Captain Jack Wander
Chris Evans - Detective Paul Diskant
Hugh Laurie - Captain James Biggs
Common - Coates
Jay Mohr - Sgt. Mike Clady
Amaury Nolasco - Detective Cosmo Santos
Terry Crews - Detective Terrence Washington
Martha Higareda - Grace Garcia

Genre - Drama/Action

Running Time - 110 Minutes

Score - 3 Howls Outta 4

PLOT - Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a stressed out, tough, alcoholic-drives-while-he-drives LAPD detective. Tom takes down a group of Korean gangsters who kidnapped some girls and held them hostage using any means necessary. If he has to manipulate a crime scene to get it done, so be it. This is great for his police captain Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker), who believes that Tom is what he calls "the tip of the spear" when it comes to keeping his police interests intact. However, things get muddled when the Captain of Internal Affairs, James Biggs (Hugh Laurie), breathes down Tom's throat when Tom learns that his former partner Terrence Washington (Terry Crews) may have ratted him out. Tom and Terrence end up misunderstanding each other's intentions during a convience store robbery, leaving Terrence shot more times than Amy Winehouse has passed out from substance abuse by some thugs while Tom doesn't bother to do anything. When the security tape that filmed the crime disappears and the crime is covered up to save Tom, Tom decides to find out the truth with the help of a young detective named Paul Diskant (Chris Evans).


STORY - Predictable and sort of disappointing for a crime drama, the screenplay for STREET KINGS still entertains the viewer. The characters are interesting, all showcasing a shadyness that makes you wonder who in the hell to trust. The mystery of what's really happening is great during the first half of the film. Unfortunately, the writing sort of falls apart in the last half, giving you nothing but predictable twists about the mystery itself, and the allegiances of the characters. I mean, it has something to do with greed and maintaining it by killing people who would get in the way of securing more money for "police funds". The main villain even had the money stashed in a wall in his house! Why not put it in a damn bank overseas where no one can get their hands on it? Duh? Hell, I kept thinking that I was watching an overlong episode of The Shield, just not as good. Still, it entertained me and I got caught up in the story even when I knew where it was gonna go. The story is probably the worst part of the film, but it wasn't so bad that it would you turn you away from what's going on. Still, can we have cop films where the police are actually the HEROES of the film for a change?

DIRECTION - David Ayer directs the film more than fine here. There's a lot of energy here and it gets the adrenaline pumping during some of the more action-packed sequences. I liked how the film was also kind of dark and not-as-polished looking as other films. It made the film more raw and sort of realistic, which was nice. It was a good job. Can't complain about the visuals at all.
VIOLENCE/SEX/LANGUAGE [aka THE GOOD STUFF] - Sex is either non-existent or minimal. But the violence and the language is all over the place in this one. Thugs getting shot. Cops getting shot to shit. Characters dropping the F-bomb like we normally do in our every day lives. This film is not for the kiddies.

ACTING - Probably the best part of STREET KINGS. Keanu Reeves, even though wooden as always, actually uses that aspect to benefit his character of Tom. The dude is miserable. He's a drunk. He's heavily flawed. Reeves drives the film extremely well and is pretty captivating to watch. I don't think he's the best actor in the world but I don't think he's as bad as many make him out to be. He was good in this one.

I think of the other actors, Chris Evans had the most to do other than Reeves. He was the total opposite of Reeves - more outgoing, more emotive, and charismatic as hell. I like this guy [probably because he refuses to go the "pretty boy" route, which I respect] and I hope he keeps picking good roles. I do think he was kind of wasted here since his screen time wasn't all that long really, but he did more than good here.

The other actors were good as well. Forest Whitaker delivers another outstanding performance as the police captain. The dude is awesome but everyone knows that. Hugh Laurie was okay, only because he seemed to be playing House but as a cop. It was kind of weird. Jay Mohr, Common, The Game, Amaury Nolasco, and John Corbett were all pretty wasted here in cameos. These guys are actually decent actors and deserved more than what they were given here.

MUSIC - Done by Graeme Revell [who also scored THE RUINS], it really helped drive the film and set up the mood nicely. Plus you get your usual hip-hop music that wasn't annoying. So no complaints in this department.

STREET KINGS is a predictable crime action drama, but it's an entertaining one and definitely worth a watch. Not as good as TRAINING DAY, but a little better than HARSH TIMES. STREET KINGS is not as inspired as it should be but you'll never be bored with the film.


  1. You said:
    "Still, can we have cop films where the police are actually the HEROES of the film for a change?"

    I say. . . RIGHT ON!!! :-)
    I personally find it difficult to root for a crooked cop.

    Still, excellent review - I will add this movie to my Netflix Queue.


  2. Calling it predictable is putting it gently. Obvious is more like it. This was a real disappointment. I'm starting to think that David Ayer is really, really not good (not to mention really limited in his scope).


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