Ken's Review: Street Kings - Blurring the Line Between Good Cop and Bad Cop

April 11, 2008

As I was driving to the screening of Street Kings, I couldn't help but hope for one thing - this would at least be as good as Narc. For me Narc was a solid and intriguing cop movie from the last few years that I really enjoyed. It's a bit hard to come up with a good original cop film in today's time in the shadow of all the great ones from the 70's and 80's. I'll tell you now though, I actually kind of liked Street Kings and it's definitely worth checking out.

Detective Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is part of the Vice Special Unit within the LAPD. His job is to hunt down and kill the criminals who his squad is looking for and make it look like self defense. Though lately Ludlow has been drinking to cope with his conscience that's been telling him what he's doing might not be right. Ludlow's squad is overseen by Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker), who makes sure that his group of cops stay under the radar and out of the sights of an internal affairs investigator, James Biggs (Hugh Laurie). When Ludlow's old partner is murdered, he decides to take matters into his own hands and hunt down his partner's killers. Turns out to be a harder task then he thought and he ends up uncovering more then he bargained for.

Detective Ludlow and his squad get ready for a bust in Street Kings.Street Kings Review

Right off the bat I have to confess that I'm a die hard Keanu Reeves fan. Before I get tons of comments bashing me for my fondness of Reeves, know that I realize he isn't the best actor. My liking of Reeves is based solely on his ability to be the same in every film. I can always count on him to carry the same character from movie to movie and for some reason I think it's great. Point Break, Matrix, Speed, The Devil's Advocate, and The Gift all have him as the same character and I wouldn't have it any other way. In defense of my desire to see Reeves, know that my brother-in-law, who doesn't like Reeves the same way, also enjoyed Street Kings, too.

If you have seen Reeves in any other movie, know that he is yet again still the same in Street Kings. Forest Whitaker, on the other hand, is really starting to confuse me. I absolutely loved him in The Last King of Scotland, thought he was horrible in Vantage Point, and thought he was good, but not great, in Street Kings. If anyone has seen the show "House" on TV, you'll be happy to see Hugh Laurie as the internal affairs investigator. He only has a couple scenes, but those scenes are definitely great. Laurie has been in a few films before and I hope we continue to see him more on the big screen, hopefully in some bigger roles with much more screen time. A few other names you might recognize are Cedric the Entertainer, Chris Evans, and Jay Mohr, who all had solid performances as well.

While all of the performances were good, what made this film for me was the story. Normally in these good cop, bad cop movies there are distinct lines between the good guys and the bad. Sure you might have a cop who doesn't obey the rules and destroys property, but you always know who you should be rooting for and who you want to see arrested. In Street Kings, the line between good and bad is blurred. Although Reeves might be considered a good guy for taking down the suspects, his methods are illegal and must be questioned. Not only is Reeves running around killing suspects but his whole squad is behind him covering up his tracks. This was a very cool and refreshing twist on the classic cop film.

Captain Jack Wander argues with Captain James Biggs in a scene from Street Kings.Street Kings Review

I'll admit that I was very apprehensive about seeing this movie. Director David Ayer didn't score any points with me after his directorial debut Harsh Times. I really hated that movie. But, he did write Training Day and U-571, both of which I liked. So with those writing credits and Reeves in the starring role, I decided to give Kings a chance and it paid off. I was expecting it to be the run of the mill cop film with the same old story and lots of rap songs, due to Common and The Game being cast. Luckily they played a small role and this didn't turn out to be another movie that some rappers were using as a promotional vehicle.

Overall, I thought this was a very enjoyable and refreshing take on the crime/cop genre film. It dragged a bit at the end because it had to tie up a lot of unexplained plot points, but for the most part it was well paced with good action sequences and solid character development. It definitely surprised me and will probably end up surprising anyone that has judged this film before seeing it. If you like action crime dramas, than this is definitely one to check out.

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Sounds fun, I'll be checking it out this weekend. It's great that you mentioned Point Break. Everybody else always skips that when they do a list of Keanu's movies, but it's a cool little flick. It's also IMHO the real basis of the Fast and the Furious franchise, but few other people seem to see that. PB is also Keanu's break into action movies. Up until then, he was doing odd ball comedies and his career seemed to be headed in an Adam Sandler type direction. So, it's cool that a reviewer is finally mentioning Point Break. Good call man.

JG on Apr 11, 2008


I share in your fondness of Keanu, Ken. I know he's awful sometimes and does the same damn thing every movie. But I'll be damned if I don't love him for it 😛

Rob G on Apr 11, 2008


Glad to see some fellow Keanu fans! Point Break is one of my all time favorites. "I caught my first tube today, sir". Classic movie that should be studied in film school. Haha ok...maybe not, but still one that I could watch anytime.

Ken Evans on Apr 11, 2008



Grace on Apr 12, 2008


I will definitely throw my hat into the ring supporting Keanu. I really enjoy watching his characters!

Andrew on Apr 12, 2008


Yes go Canoe, lol, I mean Keanu. I have to admit he is a hell of a lot better than he used to be and that is why I like him. Constantine is awesome.

mrsatan on Apr 12, 2008


wow! and i thought this would suck

Darrin on Apr 13, 2008


i saw the movie i shit you not Reeves cannot pull off badass cop like denzel washington could in Trainig Day

jarhead on Apr 21, 2008


realy good movie !!! i love it when you dont know whats going to happen, most of the movies i saw lately where boring because u know from the beginning how is going to end, but not in that movie. I recomend it to everyone who loves a nice action thriller.

ganstar on Oct 21, 2008

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