Wednesday, April 16, 2008

STREET KINGS: L.A. Un-Confidential?

STREET KINGS (police thriller)

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie and Chris Evans
Director: David Ayer
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

WHAT'S THE BIG DEAL? With James Ellroy doing the screenplay, who can complain if "Street Kings" looks suspiciously like his 1997 hit, "L.A. Confidential"? However, while "L.A. Confidential" piles up on tension and suspense, this one becomes more and more contrived and implausible as it gets along - culminating in an ending that goes out of synch with the overall film. And to make matters worse, the censorship cuts of its foul words make the movie more confusing and irritating than it is.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT? The title applies to 'dirty cops' like Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) of the Los Angeles Police Department. No, he is not on the take but he disregards the law so blatantly that he plays judge, jury and executioner with his suspects. When four Korean drug-dealers are added to his body count, Tom finds himself under probe by Captain Biggs (Hugh Laurie) of Internal Affairs. Things get worse when Tom's former partner and current IA witness, Terence Washington (Terry Crews), is gunned down in a convenience story robbery and Tom 'happens' to be there. Police chief (Forest Whitaker) tells him to forget about it and move on, but Tom persuades a homicide detective (Chris Evans) to follow the evidence and pursue the case. What follows reads like 'pulp fiction' of cop thrillers.

HITS & MISSES: For action fans, there are enough shootouts and nasty confrontations to sustain them. Women, however, may find it rather 'boring', especially when female characters in this movie seem to deliver only platitudes and sermons. As for the cast, Reeves is surprisingly effective as a guy who finds life difficult to navigate after the death of his wife. We may
not warm up to his character but he makes Tom credible enough. And then there are Whitaker and Laurie who, as expected, run rings around sophomore director David Ayer.

THE LOWDOWN: More like "L. A. UnConfidential".


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