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Review: Street Kings

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Detective Tom Ludlow is one of those good/bad cops that you always see in movies. He’s noted for getting confessions out of criminals by using the Los Angeles phone book. While he has his unique methods, they lead to results, so, his captain, Jack Wander is more than happy to look the other way.

However, Ludlow begins to suspect that his former partner is selling him out, letting the higher ups know that Ludlow isn’t the cop everyone thinks he is. When Ludlow goes to work out his feelings with his former partner, (read: break his jaw,) two thugs beat him to it, gunning him down right in front of Ludlow.

Ludlow is shell-shocked by the murder. Meanwhile, Captain James Biggs of internal affairs begins taking a closer look at Ludlow.

Ludlow sets out on a deep journey into the dark heart of the police force, finding out that not everyone wants to serve and protect. He hooks up with Detective Diskant, and wrestles with the demons that put him into this position- the death of his wife.

‘Street Kings’ has impeccable LA cop pedigree. The movie directed by David Ayer, best known for writing ‘Training Day,’ and based on a story by James Ellroy, the self-proclaimed ‘Demon Dog of Crime Fiction.’ The cast is also solid, lead by Keanu Reeves as Ludlow, with Forest Whitaker as Ludlow’s boss and Hugh Laurie as the chief from internal affairs. (If he keeps this sort of thing up, everyone will forget that he’s English.)

The movie also has some really fun, if truly brutal scenes. A long chase down alleys and over rooftops is ended when Ludlow throws a chair at the escaping suspect, knocking him into a barbwire fence. Ludlow then proceed to try and pull him through the fence until the perp starts talking. There’s also a brutal opening, where Ludlow lets two low-level dealers/child pornographers where they stand with him in a profanity and racist laden monologue. It’s dark and violent, but it’s also done with a style that makes you feel for the character. He may be tough, but he’s honest about his feelings.

However, with all of the talent, the movie never takes off and soars. It’s a rather simple bad-cop-is-actually-good-cop story with too few twists to truly envelop the viewer. The shooting and production is also pretty rote for the genre. Unfortunately, the film keeps adding and adding to the drama and hysteria, eventually resulting in over-the-top melodrama in the movie’s pivotal final moments.

The problem with the movie is that perhaps everyone is too talented. It is this combination on both sides of the camera that raises the expectations for a story that simply can’t rise up and deliver on those levels If you catch this on DVD or cable, you’ll be impressed. If you see this in the theater, you might be left wanting more. -Sam

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