Street Kings

posted April 11, 2008 07:09:19 PM CDT | 24 comments

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The back allies in Zion may have been dark but they have nothing on the scary streets of Los Angeles. Tom Ludlow (Keanu “I’ll do anything to separate myself from Neo” Reeves) has a police badge but his off-the-book duties are more in line with a garbage man. He’s the cop that enters a house with a rock to the window instead of a knock to the door. But Captain Jack Wander (the ever-sharp Forest Whitaker) needs a guy like that on his team. There’s so much corruption and disruption in his unit he could probably use some Febreeze to ease the stench of crap his men seem to stay in, too.

There’s one case in particular –a policy-questioning officer (Terry Crews) is taken out and all the evidence leads to Ludlow- that has the department shook. It’s bad enough the guy was sent to the firing squad (Yo, I think there’s still guts splattered on the screen), but after Ludlow and wide-eyed detective Paul Diskant (Chris Evans) start looking for answers, they realize it all could’ve been done on the inside. While you’re analyzing faces for lies, you’ll get a sense you’ve seen it all before on Narc or the third season of The Shield. Come to think of it, there is an episode of The Shield when Whitaker’s character goes… But we digress.

Though director David Ayer’s (Harsh Times) basic principle of “No part of the LAPD is honest” rings as fresh as 10-day-old Dunkin’ Donuts holes, he’s got a sick cast that wears its dramatic vest with pride. For every stoic Keanu Reeves moment, there’s a refreshing jab from comedian Jay Mohr to balance out the shot. Common’s screen time is slight, but dude’s heartless portrayal is one of the movie’s highlights. Cedric the Entertainer is even convincing as a slick-talking man about town. Hugh Laurie, star of the hit show House, plays a shit-sniffing internal affairs captain that Wander swears “has a PHD in catchin’ cops slippin’.” If you’re distracted by pointblank gunshots to the face or Dodge Charger engine roars on a chase, you too might slip and call this film a typical shoot’em up when it’s actually more of a stylized bloody mess fans of Training Day should be lining up to see.

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