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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Keanu Reeves
Forest Whitaker
Naomie Harris
Chris Evans
Common
Hugh Laurie.
Directors
David Ayer.
Screenwriters
James Ellroy
Kurt Wimmer
Jamie Moss.
Running Time
107 minutes

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Street Kings
It’s that old bad cop/worse cop routine…


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Plot
Implicated in the shooting of a fellow cop, dissolute LA detective Tom Ludlow (Reeves) finds himself caught between the protection of his tight-knit department and a growing sense he may not be working for the good guys at all.


Review
Street Kings
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From the brilliantly profane and testy mind of crime novelist James Ellroy and director David Ayer, who wrote the script for Training Day, comes a tale of police corruption amid the drug strewn gang-banging culture of LA’s sleazy underbelly. Well, what were you expecting, High School Musical 3? It’s that bad news from a bad town vibe again, where everybody’s on the take and by the messy close, bodies mapping a bloody line from Compton to the Hills, you’ll feel in need of a hot, cleansing shower.

In fact, scrape away the contemporary veneer - smears of neon and sun-baked tarmac - and this is a reboot of LA Confidential, where departmental battering ram Bud White is now named Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves), but is every bit the same loner in search of a soul. His will be a redemptive arc as he tracks down apples even more rotten bobbing about in the brotherhood of the LAPD. It’s Ellroy’s habitual mythology - the higher you go, the deeper the sin. Zero points for originality, then, but there’s no missing the satisfying nastiness of good police procedural, packed with gut punches like Serpico or Q&A, that stagger into view too infrequently these days.

As Ludlow, Reeves channels the Nick Nolte/Russell Crowe school of hulking law enforcement: pummelling witnesses with telephone directories, swigging mini-bar vodkas at the wheel, and tossing out casual racial slurs with the clean zing of one-liners. It’s not as if the pimps and dealers and rapists have any rights…  They deserve it. Right? This is a totally new Reeves, or a totally old one. He’s never looked so worn out, built like an ox but all his boyish attraction is sunk beneath sallow, potholed skin and piss-hole eyes. The film opens to the nag of an alarm and we witness Neo pour himself out of bed, clutch his wrung-out face, and fetch up gobs of bile into a toilet bowl. Like woah dude.

This is a good look for the film, the booze-broken future of Johnny Utah, and liberated from movie star drag Reeves thrives. It’s arguably the strongest thing he’s ever done, snaring his natural charm with the dangerous, swirling forces of an innately violent man. The supporting cast of reliable faces have a ball spitting out the peppery dialogue like tobacco. Everywhere you turn it’s excellent people from just off the Hollywood patch: Chris Evans, Forest Whitaker, Jay Mohr, Naomie Harris. Even our own Hugh Laurie, now a favoured ex-pat, lurks at the fringes of the plot as an internal affairs slimeball.

It leaves its mark, a film for grown-up tastes. And well worth storing up as relief from the impending glitterball gimmicks of summer. The challenge with Ellroy, however, has always been the endless onion peel of his plotting - there are so many layers within layers, a machine gun fire of names, crimes and cover-ups, that any film adaptation (and this is original story and script only) has to race to keep track of his sprinting mind. Ayers hasn’t the pace; we get a barrage of terrifically gritty scenes that gang up into a bewildering whole. He handles the requisite close-quarter gunfights, creating jagged, bloody bursts of brutal action, but for all the electricity in the script the succession of shock revelations push this neo-noir hell close to absurdity.


Verdict
Another mean, violent and decently acted slab of Ellroy-flavoured criminality, with an impressively battered Keanu Reeves, but Ayers is no Curtis Hanson.


Reviewed by Ian Nathan

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Street Kings
Empire Star Rating

Cateir de Pheniox

Absolute racist sterotypical shit! All the acting was shit. Hugh Laurie was completly out of place as a US cop and worst of all was Keanu Reeves who is one terrible actor, he hasn't performed wellin any of his films and he only worked in the Matrix because he did not say much as he was more of a stunt man than an actor in that film ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Cateir de Pheniox at 19:22, 03 December 2010 | Report This Post


Good old-fashioned cop movie

I am simply crazy about cop movies, which is probably why you won't fall in love with Street Kings the way I did. What most impressed me was the writing: it is such a throwback to the police genre that it will make fans want to pause and rewind the film. Reeves and the rest of the cast are all adequate and make the film even more enjoyable, while Ayer's efforts certainly don't go unnoticed as he is evidently passionate towards his work. As the title says, this is a good old-fashioned cop movie.... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 21:18, 07 April 2010 | Report This Post


Some one mentioned to me very recently that Keanu Reeves can only play Keanu Reeves. It certainly seems to be a fair observation, as Reeves never seems to have pulled one out of the bag. His only stand-out roles have been because he suited the role, and not because he brought some thing to it. He was perfect in the Matrix as in essence Neo was a zombie until he was awoken and even then he only needed to be brooding, something Keanu does all the time. He also fit Johnny Utah and Jack Traven becau... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by gepete80 at 10:44, 23 December 2008 | Report This Post


A Fine Action Thriller.

I rented this out and saw it last night, it was full of action and betryal over one man's fatal mistake. The cast were good in it, Keanu Reeves is back from a long time of not doing any action movies and he steals the show with his broken down pefomance as Tommy Ludlow. I couldn't believe Hugh Laurie was in it, he was impressive as well as Forest Whittaker after his successful Oscar win in The Last King Of Scotland and Chris Evans is good as the upcoming cop (my sister secretly fancies him!) In ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 10:05, 25 August 2008 | Report This Post


Street Kings

My initial reaction to Street Kings during the first 20 minutes of the film was, maybe Keanu was miscast here, but after allowing him the benefit of the doubt, I discovered a very subtle and nuanced performance of great depth. You really find his character, Tom Ludlow, a messed-up, knocked around guy who has sustained great damage in his life and he's paying for it in many ways... This is not a film, it is a movie, meaning it's meant to be enjoyed and not overly anal-yzed. There are plenty of... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JoseJones at 15:13, 30 April 2008 | Report This Post


RE: The Last King of Neo

s was tremendously disappointed. I expect nothing from Reeves - no offence Mr Nathan but can you explain why so many reviewers excuse this utter vacuum of an actor? Is Joe Queenan right - does he get by because he's a pretty boy and people don't want the poor darling to cry? Reeves is an utter blank at the centre of this movie. I get the impression they are trying to describe someone almost broken down on the edge - the alcohol, the attitude, seeming not to care if they get killed or not. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by elab49 at 19:58, 25 April 2008 | Report This Post


The Last King of Neo

Awful. It took me 45 minutes to begin to believe in the characters, i saw the twist in the first 15 minutes and I honestly think Neo - sorry Reeves - should hang up his acting boots right now. The man cant act and i just dont feel anything for his character because of this. Forrest is far too stereotypical and its basically just a rehash of thousands of cop bosses that are out there already. If you want to see a good L.A film, dont waste your cash on this, go buy L.A Confidential. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by marty_mcfly84 at 13:49, 23 April 2008 | Report This Post


this is as others have said a modern version of la confidential in many ways but it aint broke why fix it the only trouble iskeanu lacks the authority of say kurt russel in dark blue or christian bale in hard times hes not believably scuzzy enough good atmosphere and support fro m whittaker laurie jay mohr bloke from my fat greek wedding scrapes a 3 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by quizkid at 12:19, 23 April 2008 | Report This Post


RE: StreetKings

It was entertaining enough, though it got a bit silly at times. Hugh Laurie and Chris Evans were quite good, I thought. And some of the dialogue was great: "Secure that bullshit!" ... More

Posted by Dara at 00:34, 23 April 2008 | Report This Post


RE: StreetKings

Thought it was a decent enough watch but I couldn't help but feeling there was a better film in there trying to get out.  Personally, I don't think Keanu is up to that kind of role and I just felt the whole thing was a bit diluted from what it could have been.  ... More

Posted by mackey at 23:09, 22 April 2008 | Report This Post


RE: StreetKings

It is a really solid cop film. Keanu is great, as is Whitaker - maybe a bit cliche at times, but still fun. I thought the end wasn't really needed - too many 'twists' for the sake of it, but it was awesome getting to that point. I think this, Training Day and Harsh Times make an cool Corrupt Cop Trilogy, but this isn't quite as good as the other 2. ... More

Posted by Castor Troy at 21:27, 22 April 2008 | Report This Post


RE: StreetKings

Really enjoyed this and much better than reviews have made out. Only fault with it is it about 20mins too long. Great suspense, well crafted and great performances by everybody in the film. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Starscream at 21:22, 22 April 2008 | Report This Post


StreetKings

This movie has been criticised by a lot of people, some say its predictable others says its got slopy dialogues. This is one of the best Cop movies to come out in a long time. Reeves delivers an outstanding performance that he has never done before. The different with reeves and other actors is that he loves acting and does cus he loves the script, others are looking for the next role to give them an oscar, I enjoyed this movie not only cos it started Keanu Reeves but it is one of the best movie... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by monel1981 at 12:38, 22 April 2008 | Report This Post


street kings

The first 30 minutes of Street Kings seems like the best cop movie since Training Day. Keanu Reeves plays a hard edged badass who gets the job done, because that's what it really takes, not these nice cops who use nice language. He's realistically and cleverly racist, and takes a beating. He handles the moral police with appropriate sarcasm, making the point that we need this guy. Of course, then he's got to go all conscientious. It's fine if it's a case of boss's orders, but it's not his prefer... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 15:19, 21 April 2008 | Report This Post


way too predictable

I was extremely disappointed by this. Forrest Whitaker gives the most clichè performance of his career as the self obsessed captain-turned-crimeboss; as does Reeves with his vodka drinking cop-turned-hitman. That by itself wouldn't be so bad, if the movie had the guts to admit, that it's pure pulp. But it takes itself far too seriously, spinning off twist after twist, which lead to a conclusion you knew or expected 10 Minutes into the movie (without having read the book). The only reason I ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by zenotrapp at 11:06, 21 April 2008 | Report This Post


terrific stuff

Fair review. This is easily the best thing Keanu has been involved in, (the rest of the cast were good too) I like how it is completely committed to portraying nocturnal LA as an absolute shit-hole populated by some real bad people. Not quite as hard and tense as Training day but it has plenty of cool shoot-outs and edgy scenes. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tysmuse2 at 23:04, 20 April 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Street Kings

Rock solid, gun-ho, macho modern gunslinging Western cop fair.  If you're a fan of The Shield, The Corruptor, Serpico, Training Day et al you love this.    The dialogue is snappy, the performances full of testosterone with every main character (and there are plenty) is a known face (Hey that's Hugh Laurie, hey thats Chris Evans, Hey that's Jay Mour etc), which raises a grin, all shot gritty and with pace.   The plot is a tad predicatble towards the end, but the... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by kenada_woo at 21:54, 19 April 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Honest review for once

Gritty, gripping and entertaining... Whitaker, Laurie and Reeves were all excellent with good support   4/5 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DJ Rob C: Mark II! at 18:17, 19 April 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Honest review for once

L: bosscoe This seems like an acurate review om Empire for once. Recently the reviews have been incredibly criticle and extremly tough on the most entertaining of films. Two stars for Rambo, come on, if Shoot Em Up can earn four, Rambo shoot be at least four as well. But, based on this honest review i will check out this film, but as for an Ellroy movie, it will not come close to Dark Blue. sp; C'mon, I'm a massive Rambo fan and was there on opening day at the first showing to see the ... More

Posted by Diggler at 10:19, 17 April 2008 | Report This Post


RE: Honest review for once

tars!great show!if u want something badass?c this.if u want hardcore action?c this.if u want something gritty?c this.u get my drift... p; Thick as pigshit.........how old are you?   c and u.......give me strength ... More

Posted by spides at 06:39, 17 April 2008 | Report This Post


Honest review for once

This seems like an acurate review om Empire for once. Recently the reviews have been incredibly criticle and extremly tough on the most entertaining of films. Two stars for Rambo, come on, if Shoot Em Up can earn four, Rambo shoot be at least four as well. But, based on this honest review i will check out this film, but as for an Ellroy movie, it will not come close to Dark Blue. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bosscoe at 13:00, 16 April 2008 | Report This Post


Honest review for once

This seems like an acurate review om Empire for once. Recently the reviews have been incredibly criticle and extremly tough on the most entertaining of films. Two stars for Rambo, come on, if Shoot Em Up can earn four, Rambo shoot be at least four as well. But, based on this honest review i will check out this film, but as for an Ellroy movie, it will not come close to Dark Blue. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by bosscoe at 12:59, 16 April 2008 | Report This Post


Four stars for Miami Vice, remember?

Anything can be better than Man's remake which lacked anything that could keep you interested. This film knows what it wants to be unlike Miami Vice which couldn't even pull off a decent shootout. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ricorodrigeuz at 11:29, 16 April 2008 | Report This Post


Four stars for Miami Vice, remember?

Anything can be better than Man's remake which lacked anything that could keep you interested. This film knows what it wants to be unlike Miami Vice which couldn't even pull off a decent shootout. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ricorodrigeuz at 11:29, 16 April 2008 | Report This Post


RE: 4get the endless popcorn films that r about 2 hit cinema

L: SHADY 3 1/2 stars!great show!if u want something badass?c this.if u want hardcore action?c this.if u want something gritty?c this.u get my drift... sp; innit. ... More

Posted by Piles at 16:55, 14 April 2008 | Report This Post


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