A police thriller that’s desperate to be gritty, Street Kings boasts a protagonist so dumb it takes him an hour of screen time to realize a “plot twist” we assumed was a given. Things aren’t helped by the fact that this lummox—corrupt, hard-drinking cop Tom Ludlow—is played by Keanu Reeves, whose flat delivery does the ludicrous script no favors.
Tom is a hothead who conducts raids on drug dealers without backup or authorization. His boss (Whitaker) keeps him around to clean up messes. Tom happens to be on hand when his former partner, who was singing to Internal Affairs, gets killed during a convenience-store robbery. With IA sniffing around him and his world coming apart, Tom sets out to solve the case on his own. David Ayer tries to sell the cynicism with a hard-edged visual style and a lot of shadowy nighttime ambience, but he can’t overcome the script, which traffics in every cop-movie cliché you can imagine. Tom even has to deal with a rookie investigator (Evans), who seems to have been grafted from a bad draft of Ayer’s script for Training Day. You almost expect Reeves to deliver a variation on “I’m getting too old for this shit.” Lord knows we are.
Cast and crew
Cedric the Entertainer