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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3 ½ Stars: Once You Open your Eyes..., August 20, 2008
This review is from: Street Kings (DVD)
STREET KINGS is the latest police thriller by director David Ayer, responsible for other police thrillers such as "Training Day" and "Dark Blue". Police corruption has been the main theme for most police dramas, and this film is no different. The screenplay by James Elroy is full of intrigue and bleakness that delves into the dark side of the LAPD.

Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a cop on the edge, an alcoholic and would stoop to the most extreme measures to solve a crime; usually his suspects turn out dead. He does get the job done though, and is favored by his commanding officer, Captain Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker). As a result, Tom's past sins have been covered up for years, he works tightly in a special unit and his existence is a melting pot of violence and death. One day, his former partner (Terry Crews) becomes an informant for Internal Affairs, is killed in a convenience store shooting. The incident had awakened some "intestinal fortitude" in Tom, and now he must find those responsible along with a young detective (Chris Evans). Little do they know that they are opening up a huge can of worms.

"Street Kings" does have all the elements I like in a cop film; it's gritty, very violent and fast-paced. The film isn't going to be recognized for originality, it has all the usual formulas we've all seen before; corrupt authority figures and the hunger for money and power. The film does do one thing right and it does convince the audience that it is worth watching. The heavy and mean dialogue combined with gunfights which are quite bloody and full of intensity, it has all the qualities of a film that any male movie fan would love. The director understands what he has set out to do, and he has structured the film to move as pure adrenaline as it goes through the insides and outs of the LAPD. The film is full of detail as to how and why the corruption is inherent in the "cop system".

The screenplay plays a bit like a morality play as hotshot cop; Tom Ludlow goes through the workings of evidence tampering and cover ups. Tom's character is a man who barely sees injustice due to the things he has seen; his phrase "Bad creates more Bad" actually sums up his bleak view of his world. The script is full of "bad language" that it sometimes makes Tom's use of complex terms a little out of place. Keanu Reeves is a decent actor in my book, but I did somehow see his limits with this role.

The film does have a complex plot and is quite intense, and this is where the problems begin. The film needed to breathe at times and relax and let all its complexities settle in. The unraveling of its main twist in the third act seemed a little too `cardboard' that seemed to fail its maze of intrigue and controversy in the film's set up. The film made a compelling point when it made the darkness of the police system come full circle, with a lot of paranoia and mistrust that suggested a strong clever resolution to all the mayhem. I expected something more than a climax full of cliché that is quite familiar in action films. Forest Whitaker's final speech seemed a little too melodramatic that the film's primary set up just didn't match up.

It would be really difficult to express as to why I would say "Street Kings" is a good film because honestly, it did have a lot of faults. Some parts of the investigation seemed a little too convenient and too easy, while the final act seemed to lose much of its forward momentum when it proved less than stimulating as I've hoped for. However, I did enjoy "STREET KINGS"; it's full of attitude and the sharp-tongued dialogue did convince me to look beyond its holes. Director Ayer knew the film's limits and knew exactly what he needed to do in order to hide its flaws. It does provide an exciting ride while seeing through the eyes of a burned-out cop. The film is cleverly paced, and its action and grittiness will definitely see you enjoying its tough-guy thrills with a lot of bloodshed and body count.

Recommended! [3 ½ Stars]
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 20, 2008 1:28:19 PM PDT
This one seemed to be trying a bit too hard, which is why I didn't check it out. Well, that and Keanu....

Great review!

Posted on Aug 20, 2008 4:05:44 PM PDT
For some reason Pak, I been puttin this off. I have to be honest and say I may never watch this. Nice review again man.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2008 5:53:56 PM PDT
Woopak says:
Hey, fellas. This movie was a pleasant surprise, it wasn't terrific but it was intense. I was expecting a dvd snooze but it wasn't bad at all. Rent it first as I did, and I ended up enjoying it.
Thanks for stopping by, MM and Zack!

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2008 7:44:36 PM PDT
Honestly Pak, I may never rent or buy this. But I'm going to review maybe one last horror movie. From there I'm going into my long overdue anime kick.

Posted on Aug 20, 2008 7:51:02 PM PDT
Jason says:
Good review, Woopak. It's convincing enough to make me fight my initial feelings. I've wanted to see this movie because of the subject. However, I feel that I'll compare Keanu's character to Denzel's character in Training Day, and end up hating the whole thing because Keanu can't hold Denzel's jock.

Posted on Aug 20, 2008 10:18:29 PM PDT
Dave. K says:
Hey Pak great write up. I was thinking of checking this out, but I cannot stand Keanu Reeves. Show some damn emotion when you act!!!!!!

I swear I think he was taken over by the pods! He's like something out of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. If you hear someone running down your block screaming. They're here already! You're next! You're next, You're next...! . It's only me warning everyone LOL

I do like Forest whitaker though so I might check this out, the only thing stopping me is Mr. Pod Err I mean Keanue Reeves

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2008 10:39:35 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 21, 2008 10:07:21 AM PDT
Woopak says:
MM, I'm coming over your side right now. I did enjoy it, but y'know me...I watch more Asian films than the usual; so I may get the occasional appreciation for Hollywood flicks. I'm about to pop in Scorpion King 2 with full intention of bashing it (as I did with this flick)...LOL! who knows, maybe I will get a chance to.LOL I'm a bit depressed because the Asian movies I really want to review are not in amazon...

Jason, I do understand. when I popped the movie in, I thought Keanu playing a bad cop?...and I was very doubtful. Sure, you will see Keanu's limitations as an actor with this role but the film's pace helped me see past it. Keanu gained weight for it too. Rent it first, I liked the film's grittiness more than its plot. plus, I loved "Training Day"! Denzel ruled that character!

Dave, how did you know his secret? he did come from the pods LOL! well, for me, he's decent on some 'roles' (there are worst actors out there). His limitations were on display on this role but the film can definitely make an arguement that it's a good one because of its pace. Forest is also as good as ever. Rent it first, it's the flick I got out of netflix and I was surprised. Oh, I frogot tto say that the music also helped generate the attitude.
Obviously, I thought the plot had a lot of holes but it was a lot of fun.

Posted on Aug 21, 2008 12:52:20 PM PDT
trashcanman says:
My wife's cousin is a cop and he HATES these movies. He wants the movies to be more like real life. SNOOOOOOORE! Yeah, I want to watch some dude on a stakeout drink coffee for 7 hours straight. Not my cup of tea, but good review.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2008 1:54:18 PM PDT
My Mist review finally popped up Pak. But I really don't care now.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 21, 2008 2:25:08 PM PDT
Woopak says:
MM, I just came from your side of the woods.

T_man, thanks for the read. Yeh, this was very decent for rental, but I may just buy it for $ 9.99. I'm a sucker for action/cop films.
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