Review: Street Kings (2008)

Street Kings (2008)

Director: David Ayer 85 minutes | drama, thriller, crime | Actors: Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Common, Amaury Nolasco, Naomie Harris, Terry Crews, Cedric the Entertainer, Jay Mohr, Martha Higareda, Kenneth Choi, Kevin Benton, Kate Clarke, Patrick Gallagher, Kirstin Pierce, Dennis Nusbaum, Amy Dudgeon, Cle Shaheed Sloan, Michael Monks, Angela Sun, Garret Sato, Aaron MacPherson, Siobhan Parisi, Joanne Chew, Geoffrey Gould, Kami Jones

That writer James Ellroy is an outspoken admirer of the police department of Los Angeles, he does not say that he works on the basis of the service. Adaptations of his novels, such as ‘LA Confidential’ of ‘The Black Dahlia’, show that police forces are primarily seen as corrupt, self-indulgent. Also in Ellroys ‘Street Kings’ the police department of LA is not the best.

In ‘Street Kings’ Keanu Reeves plays hardboiled cop Tom Ludlow, a traumatized agent who operates mostly on his own and shoots first before he asks. In the streets of Los Angeles, there is none of these tactics, so in ‘Street Kings’ more and more are shot and spoken. As Ludlow one day witnesses the brutal murder of a colleague, he realizes that he does not want to be involved in a conspiracy to fight corruption.

As in most of the Ellroy-filmings, in ‘Street Kings’ criminals and crime fighters are separated from each other. Unfortunately, none of the bad people here go to caricatures, and their badness comes rather from sadism and from the calculation of self-interest. ‘Street Kings’ should therefore also have a lot more action and psychological depth. In addition, the story is increasingly predictable and understandable. In addition, it is a pity that ‘Street Kings’ is not playing like its predecessors in the 40’s and 50’s but in the 21st century. Because of this, this film is more like a tweederangs ‘Boyz n the Hood’ than a tasteful film noir.

Something else also went wrong with the casting of ‘Street Kings’. Keanu Reeves does it quite nicely as Tom Ludlow, although his portrayal is rather medium- and hardboiled. Unfortunately, Forest Whitaker’s game of subtlety was exploited in creating the untrustworthy persona that Captain Jack Wander is supposed to be. Rapper The Game also knows not to overeat, while Cedric the Entertainer does not act badly, but unfortunately his character is not in his place in this film. The biggest mistake was that of British comedian Hugh Laurie, who played an enigmatic police officer with an American accent and made a complete mistake.

That ‘Street Kings’ is worth the effort comes because of its high entertainment value. The film has a frantic pace, in which shootings follow shootings and revelations lead to revelations. That came out again in an over the top final which raised the adrenaline level even further. Therein lies the story, despite its predictability and lack of believability, yet again so ingenious and suspenseful that you’re willing to love most of the minute points. So ‘Street Kings’ is definitely not a great film, but it is definitely entertaining. And that is also worth.

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