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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Exciting police dramaApril 20 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
Keanu Reeves has come a long way as an actor. If you watch his early films you can see how he struggles to make his emotions authentic, without always succeeding. I think this was a break-through film for him. He is very believable as Tom Ludlow the soused "street fighter" cop who bends and breaks rules to get the job done. Whether he is romancing his gal, grieving over a dead cop, or exploding with rage - the emotions feel "real". And he is even more handsome than he was in his youth. This was an exciting film from start to finish. There is not one dull moment where your mind begins to wander. The soundtrack was excellent- a menacing heartbeat that always forewarns us of dangers to come. The beautifully done cinematography included vivid colors, wrenching close-ups and sweeping panoramas of L.A. Great work! I think it is too bad that so many movie critics gave this one luke-warm reviews because "Street Kings" is a good film worth seeing. I know I will be eagerly awaiting the dvd release.
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
Leave the lights off for this part of the police worldOct. 5 2008
Judy K. Polhemus
- Published on Amazon.com
"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?
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
Entertaining Modern Update to LA ConfidentialAug. 5 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
I was intrigued when I heard that writer James Ellroy, of LA Confidential fame, was attached to this movie. Street Kings plays like a modern version of LA Confidential, albeit much darker and more cynical.
You have similar parallels to the original LA Confidential. Chris Evans of Fantastic Four fame, plays Detective Paul Diskant, more akin to the idealistic Guy Pearce. Keanu Reeves, no introduction needed, plays the bruiser type with an honest heart- more along the lines of Russell Crowe's Bud White. Lastly, Forrest Whittaker gives an entertaining performance as the politically savvy and corrupt vice squad captain, much like James Cromwell's Captain Dudley Smith.
Keanu put on some weight for the movie, I found his performance fine. He's often criticized for being too wooden, but I didn't notice anything that detracted from his performance. It's a genre movie, so certain plot points are predictable, yet I was also pleasantly surprised by a few twists.
If you liked LA Confidential, and are looking for the modern update, then look no further.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3 ½ Stars: Once You Open your Eyes...Aug. 20 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
STREET KINGS is the latest police thriller by director David Ayer, responsible for other police thrillers such as "Training Day" and "Dark Blue". Police corruption has been the main theme for most police dramas, and this film is no different. The screenplay by James Elroy is full of intrigue and bleakness that delves into the dark side of the LAPD.
Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a cop on the edge, an alcoholic and would stoop to the most extreme measures to solve a crime; usually his suspects turn out dead. He does get the job done though, and is favored by his commanding officer, Captain Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker). As a result, Tom's past sins have been covered up for years, he works tightly in a special unit and his existence is a melting pot of violence and death. One day, his former partner (Terry Crews) becomes an informant for Internal Affairs, is killed in a convenience store shooting. The incident had awakened some "intestinal fortitude" in Tom, and now he must find those responsible along with a young detective (Chris Evans). Little do they know that they are opening up a huge can of worms.
"Street Kings" does have all the elements I like in a cop film; it's gritty, very violent and fast-paced. The film isn't going to be recognized for originality, it has all the usual formulas we've all seen before; corrupt authority figures and the hunger for money and power. The film does do one thing right and it does convince the audience that it is worth watching. The heavy and mean dialogue combined with gunfights which are quite bloody and full of intensity, it has all the qualities of a film that any male movie fan would love. The director understands what he has set out to do, and he has structured the film to move as pure adrenaline as it goes through the insides and outs of the LAPD. The film is full of detail as to how and why the corruption is inherent in the "cop system".
The screenplay plays a bit like a morality play as hotshot cop; Tom Ludlow goes through the workings of evidence tampering and cover ups. Tom's character is a man who barely sees injustice due to the things he has seen; his phrase "Bad creates more Bad" actually sums up his bleak view of his world. The script is full of "bad language" that it sometimes makes Tom's use of complex terms a little out of place. Keanu Reeves is a decent actor in my book, but I did somehow see his limits with this role.
The film does have a complex plot and is quite intense, and this is where the problems begin. The film needed to breathe at times and relax and let all its complexities settle in. The unraveling of its main twist in the third act seemed a little too `cardboard' that seemed to fail its maze of intrigue and controversy in the film's set up. The film made a compelling point when it made the darkness of the police system come full circle, with a lot of paranoia and mistrust that suggested a strong clever resolution to all the mayhem. I expected something more than a climax full of cliché that is quite familiar in action films. Forest Whitaker's final speech seemed a little too melodramatic that the film's primary set up just didn't match up.
It would be really difficult to express as to why I would say "Street Kings" is a good film because honestly, it did have a lot of faults. Some parts of the investigation seemed a little too convenient and too easy, while the final act seemed to lose much of its forward momentum when it proved less than stimulating as I've hoped for. However, I did enjoy "STREET KINGS"; it's full of attitude and the sharp-tongued dialogue did convince me to look beyond its holes. Director Ayer knew the film's limits and knew exactly what he needed to do in order to hide its flaws. It does provide an exciting ride while seeing through the eyes of a burned-out cop. The film is cleverly paced, and its action and grittiness will definitely see you enjoying its tough-guy thrills with a lot of bloodshed and body count.
Recommended! [3 ½ Stars]
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Surprisingly good...but not greatOct. 22 2008
- Published on Amazon.com
The screen play written by James Ellroy is about a troubled cop, a dirty but effective unit in the troubled LAPD and of course corruption that goes (da da dum) ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP. To paraphrase David Spade's Hollywood Minute - I liked it better the first time......when it was called "L. A. Confidential".
Still, if you like movies about cops and bad guys and don't want to watch LA Confidential again, this is a pretty good take on a story we never seem to get tired of watching. Its essentially the same story Ellroy has been writing since he began. Good cops trying to do the right thing in a bad world and having to answer the age old question "where does it all end? who polices the police?" At times I thought the story was going to devolve into a liberal PC morality lesson where the only bad guys are the cops and everyone else is an innocent victim, even the perps. Ellroy is too seasoned a writer to not give us a good story and a mystery. This movie may not be a classic and there's nothing really new here but it's a good re-telling of the troubled/dirty cop story.
And if that's the kind of thing you like, then you're going to like this kind of thing. Very watchable and engaging. The first extended sequence scene is particularly good starting with Keanu waking up and ending at the gang house. This seems to be a trademark of Ellroy in which the story is comprised of a sequence of gripping and compelling scenes and even though the ending maybe predictable, its a good ride.