Street Kings

Police corruption is always a juicy theme for a balls-out action flick. And here's Keanu Reeves going all butch and trigger-happy as LAPD hardass Tom Ludlow, a hothead who bends the law with the blessing of his commanding officer, Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker, pushing way too hard). Reeves struggles mightily for the brute force that felt second nature to Russell Crowe in the great L.A. Confidential, from a novel by James Ellroy, who shares writing credit for Street Kings. Director David Ayer also labors under the shadow of the vital script he wrote for Training Day. The acting? Common and the Game score as baddies, but Hugh Laurie as an acid-tongued internal-affairs cop is disappointingly just House without the limp. Don't get me wrong. Street Kings clips along with brutal efficiency, but the plot that sets up Tom for a frame-up is, in critic parlance, a strain on credulity. The characters in Street Kings would call it bullshit. They wouldn't be wrong.

From The Archives Issue 253: December 1, 1977