"Street Kings"--James Ellroy--deepest corruption, unrelenting violence, hidden acts, provocative coverups--this is a world that Joe and Julia Citizen will never see. The average citizen might assume corruption in police departments, but will never ever guess its extent as "Street Kings" shows.
Governmental and military black ops are kept secret with no written records in efforts to make a dent on destroying evil (philosophically speaking) in the large world. "Street Kings," through the pen of James Ellroy and the direction of David Ayer, exposes a layer of police work that parallels that of black ops. Written records are required in this case but highly filtered and altered.
Keanu Reeves is a surprising choice as Tom Ludlow, police op extraordinaire, but quite convincing as the take-no-prisoners kind of guy--one of the Street Kings of the police underworld. However, his work eliminating evil is protected by his boss, played his usual soft-spoken way by Forest Whitaker, the king of the Street Kings. Perhaps not playing his role viciously took the onus off his character's ultimate revelation.
Once the first scene rolled with its explicit violence and the take-down by death of vicious thugs, the tone of the film is set. Tom Ludlow shows his mettle and his job--ridding the world of dark evils. At a group gathering of police ops for ritual drinks, Ludlow again shows his nature--roiling underneath a seemingly calm exterior, willing to act NOW, and barely containable by his boss, Whitaker's character.
On the other hand, Whitaker shows his hail-fellow-well-met persona, appreciative of Ludlow's work to enhance his own political inside clawing to the top. By movie's end, we see just what Whitaker's character truly wants.
The plot becomes quite complex with the addition of two men--Hugh Laurie as Internal Affairs and Ludlow's former partner who decides to go to IA. More murder, more mayhem. Through it all, believe it or not, Ludlow remains true to himself and to his necessary role in the police underworld.
The film's conclusion is a shocker. I never guessed the depth of the police underworld and what our guardians of the streets would do for public safety and their own protection. Is this just a movie based on a book for entertainment value, or does the movie show truth filtered through fiction?