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Thursday, 16 April 2020

Retro Review: Street Kings (2008)

Street Kings 
Cast: Keanu Reeves, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Forrest Whitaker, Naomie Harris, Cedric The Entertainer, Common, Jay Mohr, Terry Crews
Genre: Crime Thriller
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $65 million

Plot: An undercover cop, disillusioned by the death of his wife, is implicated in the murder of an officer and must struggle to clear himself 

''Not The King Of The World'

Street Kings is a baffling movie: baffling, because with a premise that has been done and recycled to death in so many movies, not least Training Day, what with all the twists and turns, it ended up confounding me in ways in which everything else that happened in between in the lead up to those events, was dull and a waste of time. 
This is probably the toughest and challenging film Keanu has done, well until John Wick came along. But for the opening 10 mins, nothing rarely happens until the last 20 mins of the film, when it really comes alive.

Veteran LAPD cop Tom Ludlow is part of the Special Vice Squad Unit headed by Captain Jack Wander, where they shoot first, ask questions later and choose not to play by the rulebooks. Since his wife's death, Tom adapts a hardline approach to taking out criminals. 

When Tom's ex-partner, Terrance gets killed by a pair of machine-gun totting thugs in a convenience store, Tom gets hold of the videotape and is framed for Terrance's death. With the LAPD targeting him as a suspect, Tom has to go it alone. 

There are issues with this film as pointed earlier on; that and some of the dialogue was pitiful to hear and poorly written, and as a whole Street Kings was nothing short of flat and that story-wise, it just never stood out from beginning to end. The casting featured the guy from My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the guy from Are We There Yet? and rom-com, Picture Perfect with a God-awful moustache that he didn't need, Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Terry Crews, British actor Hugh Laurie, who went on to later success with House MD and pre -Avengers superstar, Chris Evans in a wasted supporting role as a budding cop. The characters are either one-dimensional or lifeless; even with the turncoat cops, it was obvious from the start who was behind it and that not one of them would have fooled 90% of the audience, who would have easily worked out that they had a hand in setting up and bringing down Ludlow. Keanu Reeves did what he could, but the material did him no favours, whilst Forrest Whitaker overacted at times and rapper Common and Cedric The Entertainer had to make do with characters, who were unpleasant and vulgar. Meanwhile, the female actresses had so little screentime, there was next to no character development for both Naomie Harris's & Martha Higareda's roles. 

I wanted Street Kings to defy me; this ought to have been a great film or be it one destined as a cult crime thriller -, instead, it became an underwhelming & hugely disappointing movie that didn't try anything or bring anything to the table, but instead, it rehashed and slapdashed some of the 'crooked cops' ideas of Training Day and tacked it onto a bland and generic script. & due to the script, there was not one stand out performance. In fact, the performances at best were comparable to that of either a TV cop show or direct-to-DVD film. Which, in itself, is sort of amusing as the sequel to Street Kings was greenlit and headed to DVD. The twists were all right, but they came too little too late and just weren't enough to salvage this movie.

Final Verdict: 

Deep down there is an underlying film that is waiting to be unleashed, yet for all the bravado it turns out that Street Kings rarely offers anything different, insightful and new: it's a B/Z-movie in disguise and one many would choose to overlook in favour of other similar and yet far better offerings. 


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