“Street Kings” – Susan Granger reviews
There ought to be a testosterone warning posted at the box-office and stamped on each ticket because overdosing is a distinct possibility.
Recently widowed veteran LAPD Det. Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a psychotic killing machine. He starts his day by purchasing three airline bottles of cheap vodka, the first of which he gulps just before he massacres four scummy thugs and rescues two kidnapped Asian girls in Koreatown.
“You went toe-to-toe with evil and you won!,” chortles his ambitious supervisor, Capt. Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker), who firmly believes that the end justifies the means.
But when anti-heroic Ludlow is implicated in the death of his former partner, Det. Terrence Washington (Terry Crews), he’s determined to track down the real murderers while eluding persistent Internal Affairs Capt. James Biggs (Hugh Laurie), who’s fishing for information about everyone else in the department.
Bottom line: if you’re looking for an incorruptible cop, look in a less sordid county. Directed by David Ayer (“Training Day”) from a predictable, paper-thin plot by “L.A. Confidential” novelist James Ellroy, Kurt Wimmer and Jamie Moss, it’s a cynical, cliche-laden litany of police corruption. Gratuitous violence is ladled out like greasy gravy, along with racial slurs. And the platitudinous dialogue is often ludicrous.
One of the most incongruous moments comes, early on, when Ludlow’s ex-partner’s body has been riddled with dozens of bullets from two machine guns at close range in a convenience store. Contorting his almost static facial muscles, Keanu leans over, stares into his eyes and flatly entreats him: “Stay with me!” Like for seven seconds maybe. To call Reeves’ acting wooden is an insult to Pinnochio. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Street Kings” is a brutal 3, giving gritty realism a bad name.