Last year, between the two of us, we watched an average of 317 movies.
This year our goal is to top that by watching at least one a day.
And as an extra special torture, we've decided to write about all of them.

08 June 2008

Street Kings, dir. David Ayer (2008)

NIKKI says:
If I didn't know better, I would have thought this movie was about hockey. I'm hating the title. The movie, I thought, wasn't that terrible. It's been very poorly reviewed in the major papers, most complaints leveled at Keanu and the film's brutal, "dirty" violence. One review said it was like Lethal Weapon meets The Shield, but not a very good rip-off of either.

Well, I can see the issues here. It would appear the film is supposed to be a mystery, with Keanu's character, Ludlow, having to figure out who is behind a cop shooting that's being pinned on him. He has the motive, he was there, everyone already hates him, but he didn't do it -- we know that, and without too much effort, we can guess who did do it. So it's less a who-done-it and more a why-and-how-done-it.

Does that make the thing predictable? In a way, but it's not so bad that it ruins the entire film. I enjoyed the team-up between Keanu and Chris Evans. They created some good drama, and I believed their search. I don't think Ludlow would have realistically pinpointed the bad guys right away. So I was convinced when he was leaning on known drug-runners, and digging for the answers.

The eventual showdown between Keanu and the bad guys was tense and exciting, even if the message behind it was slightly stale. The script, by James Ellroy, is supposedly based on the OJ Simpson trial, so that might be why it feels so dated. Maybe back when Lethal Weapon came out, we would have been shocked to find bad guys like these, but we've had The Shield over five years now, so NOTHING shocks us anymore.

The best thing about this movie? Keanu was just great. I know everyone bags him for his apparent lack of acting talent, and I can see what they mean. I've never felt, though, that he can't act, just that his speech patterns are a bit strange, and make it sound like he can't act. Throw him in Bill and Ted where his slow drawl fits with the character, and he's great. Here, though, he was just excellent. I don't think I've ever seen him as angry as he was here, and his face-offs with Chris Evans and Hugh Laurie and Forest Whitaker were really something to see.

Not a great movie, but certainly deserving of more than its 36% over at Rotten Tomatoes.


STEVE says:
Keanu Reeves as a tough-guy cop. I've seen Speed and I'm still not sure I buy it. But he made it work in Street Kings.

The comparisons to The Shield and Lethal Weapon are pretty obvious, but making those comparisons is like a short-cut to thinking. There's more going on in this movie than seems at first - even though it becomes pretty clear what's going on well-before midpoint - and watching how it all comes out in the end is half the fun. Sure, we can see what's going on with Forrest Whitaker and the rest of the crew, but we don't know how or why (well "why" is pretty much always answered with "money" or "power", and that's not contradicted here), and that's what kept me watching.

I must note, though, that this movie had a case of Timothy Hutton Syndrome. I said to Nikki, "Jay Mohr's not in the movie for nothing", to which she replied, "Neither is John Corbett". And guess who turned out to be bad cops? Uh huh. They were, for all intents and purposes, featured extras, but by casting "names" their characters were put in the spotlight. I wonder if the twists would have been so easy to pick if they'd been played by less recognizable faces.


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