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Overall Rating
3.08

Awesome: 7.69%
Worth A Look46.15%
Average: 10.26%
Pretty Bad: 17.95%
Total Crap: 17.95%

5 reviews, 9 user ratings


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Street Kings
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by Jason Whyte

"Harsher times."
1 stars

Now here is a cop drama we have seen a thousand times done over, and what’s worse is “Street Kings” based on a screenplay by James Ellroy. Ellroy, the king of crime entertainment now appears to have passed the torch over to Dennis Lehane (Gone Baby Gone, Mystic River) as we now appear to be getting our top crime dramas out of him. Here, “Kings” takes the easy path of ultra-violence, a loud soundtrack and inspid dialogue to make its way through a dull and lifeless feature from director David Ayer (who directed “Harsh Times” from a few years ago).

Keanu Reeves is woefully miscast as a dirty, racist cop who has no problem blowing a bunch of bad guys away without trial and for cutting corners wherever necessary. He drinks little bottles of vodka (what, no flask?) as he drives around Los Angeles busting up crime. He is backed up by his commander (Forest Whitaker, who looks like he’s in the wrong movie) for every wrong doing, possibly because he could be holding some dirty secrets of his own. The lying and deception go on long enough that Dr. House himself, Hugh Laurie, shows up as an agent from Internal Affairs who really doesn’t like the shenanigans of the crime unit and wants to bring it down.

Turns out Reeves is under investigation by Dr. House and is being outed by one of his colleagues. In a howler of a scene, there’s a shootout in a grocery store where Reeves’ accuser is shot to death by so many machine gun bullets it puts the horrific, multi-clip execution scene in “Robocop” to shame. One of Reeves’ bullets turns up in his colleague’s body, which may come back to haunt him later as the coroner will no doubt find one different shell casing in with about 200 other unnecessary bullets. And then by this point there’s another shootout, because it appears that director David Ayer likes shootouts to liven up the pacing.

The entire setup of “Street Kings” feels like this: exposition of dialogue, an argument that breaks out of control into a shootout, a scene where a bunch of detectives in jackets stand around drinking coffee out of Styrofoam cups, Reeves hassled by Dr. House, and so on and so on, lather rinse and repeat for 105 minutes. Many aspects of the story come up and suddenly disappear, so just when you think you have to follow a particular storyline it forgets it and moves on.

You also have to throw in rappers (Common and The Game) who have no business acting. In one of the many shootout scenes, rappers fight off with Reeves and Cedric the Entertainer (!) where so many bullets are fired that a fridge suddenly appears as a weapon. I was somewhat mystified (and a bit bothered) by a shot where Reeves hangs over a fridge and shoots one of the bad guys in the head, his brains splattering all over the freezer door. Ayer really doesn’t seem to be trying anything new; even the visual style seems ripped from Antoine Fuqua and Michael Mann.

Probably the biggest letdown of “Street Kings” is the fact that Reeves and Whitaker just do not belong in a stinker like this (was the mere fact Ellroy’s name attached to the project what led them here?). Whitaker’s so over the top, bobbling his head at the dialogue he has to deliver, that you wonder if he forgot that he won an Oscar two years ago. As for Reeves, he looks embarrassed to be spouting off hateful dialogue, shooting up a scene and trying to act emotive when there isn’t any of it to begin with. This is a silly and preposterous thriller with nary a new idea in its blown out head.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=17050&reviewer=350
originally posted: 08/24/08 16:44:41
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User Comments

5/27/11 brian LA Confidential meets Training Day; less stylish than the former, depressing as the latter. 3 stars
12/25/09 Jeff Wilder Reeves did okay. But the movie is standard. See The Departed instead. 2 stars
6/08/09 mr.mike Training Day was convincing , this is not. Reeves is just OK. 3 stars
8/16/08 PAUL SHORTT DEPRESSING AND SICKENINGLY VIOLENT 1 stars
5/26/08 Double M Very predictable, cliched, often lame and barely average all around. A step down for Ayer 3 stars
4/28/08 ravenmad fast paced, lottsa guns, Grit. Killer performances! 5 stars
4/23/08 L.A. Francois Typical police corruption, but held my interest. 3 stars
4/18/08 kaz love me a dirty cop movie.. 5 stars
4/11/08 Neo its dammmmmm goood 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  11-Apr-2008 (R)
  DVD: 19-Aug-2008

UK
  N/A

Australia
  17-Apr-2008




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