Street Kings (2008)

18 April 2008

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LAPD corruption comes under the spotlight in Street Kings, the taut police action thriller released this Spring by Twentieth Century Fox. Keanu Reeves (The Matrix Trilogy, Speed, Point Break) stars as troubled veteran LAPD officer, Tom Ludlow, in this dark tale of good cop versus bad cop.
 
Directed by David Ayer (Harsh Times), Street Kings also features a first class supporting cast including Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland, The Crying Game) as Captain Wander, Ludlow’s supervisor, Hugh Laurie (House, Stuart Little) as Internal Affairs Captain Biggs, Chris Evans, Jay Mohr, Naomie Harris, and rappers Common and The Game who are joined by comedian Cedric the Entertainer taking on the role of an edgy street informer.
 
Unable to overcome the death of his wife, Tom Ludlow’s life is thrown further into turmoil when evidence wrongly implicates him in the execution of a fellow officer. He teams up with a young Robbery Homicide Detective (Chris Evans) to track down the real killers through the diverse communities of Los Angeles and realises that if he is to clear his name he must confront the corrupt cop culture that he has been part of for his entire career – ultimately leading him to question the loyalties of everyone around him.
 
Street Kings marks the first exciting writing collaboration between award winning novelist James Ellroy (The Black Dahlia, LA Confidential) and Kurt Wimmer responsible for the cult action sci-fi thrillers Ultraviolet and Equilibrium with talented new co-writer, Jamie Moss, also working on the screenplay.
 
Rough, tough and action-packed Street Kings offers an uncompromising view of LA’s criminal underbelly from both sides of the law.

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"Bad Boys gets tough in this gritty action thriller"

You've seen one you've seen them all. Cop action thrillers are a dine a dozen in Hollywood, and while some of them achieve greatness (see Heat), the majority are destined to slip into obscurity, serving up plenty of mind numbing action, with very few thrills (see S.W.A.T.).

Whilst not quite attaining the dizzying heights of Heat (lets be honest here - Reeves and Whitaker are not in the same league as De Niro and Pacino), Street Kings packs some serious punch, thanks to some fantastic pacing and a realistic, gritty portrayal of life on the streets of Los Angeles.

Reeves plays Tom Ludlow, an alcoholic Narc officer struggling to deal with the death of his adulterous wife years before. We follow Tom on a veritable action roller coaster, hero cop one moment, prime suspect in a hit on a fellow officer just days later.

As the story unfolds, the plot thickens and you are drawn in to a world of secrets and corruption, unable to tell friend from foe. As Ludlow seeks to clear his name, with the help of Paul Diskant (Chris Evans), the twisted web of lies and corruption begins to unravel, and all that you thought to be true is turned on its head.

Whitaker is fantastic as Captain Jack Wander, who acts as a father figure to Ludlow throughout the film, and special mention must go to Hugh Laurie as Captain James Biggs, an Internal Affairs officer aiming to sniff out the corruption in the unit, and whose real intentions are ambiguous till the very end.

Street Kings manages to rise above the quagmire that so many action thrillers fall into. With style as well as substance, the film keeps you guessing until the final shot is fired. It's Bad Boys without the comedy, and Miami Vice without the pretension.

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