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Street Kings

4.3 out of 5 stars 269 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Keanu Reeves stars as Tom Ludlow, a veteran LAPD cop who finds life difficult to navigate after the death of his wife. When evidence implicates him in the execution of a fellow officer, he is forced to go up against the cop culture he's been a part of his entire career, ultimately leading him to question the loyalties of everyone around him.

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Street Kings is a pungent bouquet of corruption, violence, multi-ethnic mayhem, macho glee laced with macho angst, and fluorescently obscene dialogue from the mind of James Ellroy. Its hero, though he'd scarcely consent to be called one, is L.A. police detective Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves), for whom life is a wound that won't heal and dealing out retribution to scumbags is the ongoing treatment. Ludlow's the star player--"the tip of the [expletive] spear"--on a team of detectives headed by Capt. Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker). Coach Wander relies on his boys to keep breaking lurid cases, usually through deeply darkside underground work, and raising his profile with the media and the department. In pursuit of these goals, nothing is forbidden except failure, and the truth is what you make it look like. This is familiar Ellroy territory, most effectively translated to the screen in L.A. Confidential (which should have won the 1997 Oscar, and would have if Titanic hadn't launched that year). If you know Ellroy's ground game, you can pretty much guess where Street Kings is going, and where it's been. Still, the twists and torques of its urban road-rage course maintain the centrifugal force needed to hold us in our seats (a tactical highlight: refrigerator adapted as rolling barricade), and the movie keeps bopping us with oddball casting coups: comic Jay Mohr and Northern Exposure/Sex and the City veteran John Corbett as two members of Coach Warden's gonzo detective squad; Cedric the Entertainer doing a nicely nuanced turn as a street creature; Hugh Laurie doing a less-hyper version of House, if House worked Internal Affairs.

The problem is that director David Ayer keeps everything intense. Dialogues are shot too close-up, line readings are too strident, the action is too nonstop slam. Recall Curtis Hanson's L.A. Confidential and the mind's eye summons up a whole spectrum of existence, mood, place, historical period, emotional investment; there's an amplitude to the picture and the sensibility bringing it to us, something besides the whodunit and the endless rap sheet of nasty what-they-done. Everything in Street Kings is one-note, and with Keanu Reeves playing it implosive and Forest Whitaker locked in crazier-than-an-outhouse-rat mode, that's no way to stay the course. --Richard T. Jameson

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Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Cedric the Entertainer
  • Directors: David Ayer
  • Writers: James Ellroy, Jamie Moss, Kurt Wimmer
  • Producers: Alexandra Milchan, Arnon Milchan, Bob Yari, Bruce Berman, Lucas Foster
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Surround), French (Dolby Surround), Unknown (Dolby Surround), Spanish (Dolby Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Fox Searchlight
  • DVD Release Date: August 19, 2008
  • Run Time: 109 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (269 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001BP4K22
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,827 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Street Kings" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Keanu Reeves has come a long way as an actor. If you watch his early films you can see how he struggles to make his emotions authentic, without always succeeding. I think this was a break-through film for him. He is very believable as Tom Ludlow the soused "street fighter" cop who bends and breaks rules to get the job done. Whether he is romancing his gal, grieving over a dead cop, or exploding with rage - the emotions feel "real". And he is even more handsome than he was in his youth.
This was an exciting film from start to finish. There is not one dull moment where your mind begins to wander. The soundtrack was excellent- a menacing heartbeat that always forewarns us of dangers to come. The beautifully done cinematography included vivid colors, wrenching close-ups and sweeping panoramas of L.A. Great work! I think it is too bad that so many movie critics gave this one luke-warm reviews because "Street Kings" is a good film worth seeing. I know I will be eagerly awaiting the dvd release.
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"Street Kings"--James Ellroy--deepest corruption, unrelenting violence, hidden acts, provocative coverups--this is a world that Joe and Julia Citizen will never see. The average citizen might assume corruption in police departments, but will never ever guess its extent as "Street Kings" shows.

Governmental and military black ops are kept secret with no written records in efforts to make a dent on destroying evil (philosophically speaking) in the large world. "Street Kings," through the pen of James Ellroy and the direction of David Ayer, exposes a layer of police work that parallels that of black ops. Written records are required in this case but highly filtered and altered.

Keanu Reeves is a surprising choice as Tom Ludlow, police op extraordinaire, but quite convincing as the take-no-prisoners kind of guy--one of the Street Kings of the police underworld. However, his work eliminating evil is protected by his boss, played his usual soft-spoken way by Forest Whitaker, the king of the Street Kings. Perhaps not playing his role viciously took the onus off his character's ultimate revelation.

Once the first scene rolled with its explicit violence and the take-down by death of vicious thugs, the tone of the film is set. Tom Ludlow shows his mettle and his job--ridding the world of dark evils. At a group gathering of police ops for ritual drinks, Ludlow again shows his nature--roiling underneath a seemingly calm exterior, willing to act NOW, and barely containable by his boss, Whitaker's character.

On the other hand, Whitaker shows his hail-fellow-well-met persona, appreciative of Ludlow's work to enhance his own political inside clawing to the top. By movie's end, we see just what Whitaker's character truly wants.
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I was intrigued when I heard that writer James Ellroy, of LA Confidential fame, was attached to this movie. Street Kings plays like a modern version of LA Confidential, albeit much darker and more cynical.

You have similar parallels to the original LA Confidential. Chris Evans of Fantastic Four fame, plays Detective Paul Diskant, more akin to the idealistic Guy Pearce. Keanu Reeves, no introduction needed, plays the bruiser type with an honest heart- more along the lines of Russell Crowe's Bud White. Lastly, Forrest Whittaker gives an entertaining performance as the politically savvy and corrupt vice squad captain, much like James Cromwell's Captain Dudley Smith.

Keanu put on some weight for the movie, I found his performance fine. He's often criticized for being too wooden, but I didn't notice anything that detracted from his performance. It's a genre movie, so certain plot points are predictable, yet I was also pleasantly surprised by a few twists.

If you liked LA Confidential, and are looking for the modern update, then look no further.
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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.
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