Friday, April 18, 2008

Street Kings

Maybe it’s those boyish good looks, maybe it’s that hair, maybe it’s the Hawaiian-stoner voice, but you just cannot take Keanu Reeves seriously. Put him in a surfer movie like Point Break or play him as a dim-witted guy who has no idea what the hell is going on (The Matrix) and he does alright. But as a crooked LA cop who suddenly spawns a conscience, he never really hits his mark.
Street Kings is like most of the other movies writer-director David Ayer has made. Lines in this film are taken directly from his penned script Training Day, not to mention themes and general plot concepts from Dark Blue, S.W.A.T. and Harsh Times. The man is fascinated with corrupt cops, but he keeps telling the tale in the same way, which is never all too affective.
Where these films falter is in their main characters. With the exception of Christian Bale’s brilliant performance in Harsh Times, Ayer’s main guys can never hit the moral complexity of, say, The Shield’s Vic Mackey or The Wire’s Jimmy McNulty. Rather, characters like Reeves’ come off as whiney puppies, too scared to leave the litter.
The tired plot has been recycled dozens of times. Reeves’ Tom Ludlow begins to grow a conscience after his old partner is gunned down execution style. Forrest Whitaker (why try so hard?) is his evil-ways Captain who wants the dirty money from the bad guys he puts down. Who can Ludlow trust? The snooty IA detective (Hugh Laurie playing House without the limp) his new partner (Chris Evans, what’s with the hair?) or his new girlfriend?
Halfway through, you won’t care. And if you have any sense, you’ll figure out the “surprise” ending long before the characters do. The only refreshingly thing about Street Kings is the scene-stealing appearance of rapper Common, who unlike any of his musical colleges is on his way to making a clear transformation into a bonafide screen presence. C


  1. Never saw this one. At this point I trust you, so I won't. :)

    I was wondering if there were other reasonable Keanu performances beyond the ones you noted. I came up with Little Buddha. Surfer Buddha? Not a stretch at all.

    1. Awww Little Buddha, I haven't thought about that movie in years. Not half bad, you're right.