Wow. I've just found out this film was based on a James Ellroy novel and he even had a hand in the script. I'm sorry its just taken me a bit by surprise because the film itself is, at times, desperately unoriginal and horribly predictable. Don't fear I'm not gonna change my opinion on the film because I've learnt this fact, which is nice to know I'm not being a hypocrit, I just feel it needs addressing that you can go into a movie not knowing all the facts. Which is rare. For me. Because I know everything about movies, don't I?
Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is an LAPD cop who acts as a one man clean up operation whenever bad men are in town. While he works 'outside the law' he only ever murders really bad men, the type that kidnap kids, so therefore he's okay. But he does drink a lot though which makes him bad. Oooh you can see the fuzzy line already can't you. When his ex-best friend and straight up cop Terrence is killed Tom begins to search for the truth and uncovers a big bag of deception and general naughtiness from the boys in blue.
I'm not really going to enjoy any police/corruption/drug dealer products where the line is ever so slightly blurred between good and bad while I'm still hooked on The Wire (I'm on Season 3 and counting peeps) but this one kinda insulted my intelligence enough to warrant a reasonable amount of critical bile. Crass sterotypes and pointless girlfriend roles notwithstanding the 'reverse acting' (you know where an actor has to act as if he's acting) by Mr. Whitaker is enough to ask him for his Oscar back.
Its clear Street Kings is a redemption tale from the get go and because of this the predictability-ometer sits high in the red. Once the light clicks in Keanus head, and it takes a fucking while, that all those around him are badder than bad we know that he'll become a one man justice fighting machine. Its also pretty clear that he'll be alive by the end, which is a shame. Redemption tales are always better when the lead dies. Or is at least disfigured horribly in some way.