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"Street Kings" movie poster

Street Kings

Genre: Drama
Rated: R
Directed by:
David Ayer
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, The Game
Released by: Fox Searchlight

In Short: Brutal and violent, this fast-moving thriller about a squad of LAPD detectives will make you afraid of both the criminals and the cops in the City of Angels.
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One Tough City of Angels
Brutality is the Boss in the LAPD

asten your seats belts, this one is going to be a bumpy, brutal ride. From the definitely twisted and often depraved mind of writer James Ellroy (“L. A. Confidential,” “The Black Dahlia”) and director David Ayer, whose screenplay for “Training Day” helped win Denzel Washington his Best Actor Oscar for portraying a crooked LAPD detective, comes “Street Kings.” Another dark and twisted look at the men who man the front lines of the Los Angeles Police Department, the film is an action-packed whodunit that will make you believe that there are no clean cops anywhere in the City of Angels.

Hugh Laurie and Forest Whitaker in "Street Kings"
Chris Evans, The Game, and Keanu Reeves in "Street Kings"

As down-and-out (and usually drunk) detective Tom Ludlow, Keanu Reeves shows every second of his 43 years on his tortured face. It’s a bit disconcerting to see the guy we remember as the surfer dude from “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” looking like twenty miles of bad road, but that is soon forgotten, as it becomes impossible to separate the actor from the role. His take on Ludlow is spot-on, and it is easy to believe that this is a cop who has reached the end of his rope.

As always in Ellroy’s stories, “Street Kings” is a maze of characters and incidents, a male-dominated world where it is hard to tell the good guys from the bad. Are Ludlow’s fellow detective squad members (boss Forest Whitaker, cops Chris Evans, Jay Mohr, an almost unrecognizable John Corbett, Amaury Nolasco) clean or dirty? Are the bad guys (Cedric the Entertainer, Common, The Game) really such low-down criminals, or is there something else going on?

The action is fast, violent, and tough (the dialogue matches, a barrage of racial epithets, swearing, and aggressive posturing) and the mystery (Ludlow witnesses his ex-partner’s brutal murder and begins to investigate) is complex enough to keep viewers guessing...for a while, at least.

While definitely not for the faint of heart or the easily offended, “Street Kings” is certainly a compelling cop thriller. But if you live in Los Angeles, be ready to look over your shoulder as you leave the theater, for if this vision of the LAPD is anywhere close to the truth, the cops are just as bad as the criminals in the City of Angels.

Text by Jenny Peters

PES033108 (Updated 04/10/08 ES)

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