Whoever said Keanu Reeves was a one trick pony (think Matrix trilogy) or very possibly one of the very worst actors of our time, please stand up. After I watched the wannabe cop-thriller Street Kings (I was hoping for a Training Day type of flick), I want to shake your hands. Clearly, Mr. Reeves is the luckiest man on earth, since he is able to make a fantastic living at a job he has no right to do. But, this mess incredibly, isn’t his fault.
Street Kings is a cesspool of horrid acting by most everyone involved in the project and it has perhaps the worst writing ever put to paper in a major motion picture (pornos are only slightly worse). From the onset it was clear that the story and characters weren’t thought out very well, which may or may not be a byproduct of having three screenwriters (James Ellroy, Kurt Wimmer and Jamie Moss) trying to collectively piece this together. I can see Ellroy, who has done some good work in the past, putting together the main plot which clumsily revolves around a Dirty Harry-ish detective named Tom Ludlow (Reeves), as he grapples with being investigated by Internal Affairs (led by Hugh Laurie) while trying to both protect his unit (headed by Forest Whitaker) and exact street justice to the killers of his ex-partner. Then I picture Wimmer trying to introduce subplots into the mix – Ludlow’s alcoholism brought on by the loss of his wife, racial tensions between Ludlow and his ex-partner Terrence Washington (Terry Crews) and a dysfunctional love life between Ludlow and his girlfriend Grace (Martha Higareda) – without ever following through. I have no idea what Moss brought to the table since he doesn’t have any credits to his name and I’ve never heard of him before.
The uneven story of Street Kings is further beaten down by the horribly cliched dialogue which takes what is supposed to be a serious thriller/drama and unintentionally makes it laugh out loud funny. My all time favorite is the climatic scene between Ludlow and his boss, Captain Jack Wander (Whitaker). These guys go back and forth for ten minutes with their cheesey lines and overly emphatic body movements; each seemingly trying to one up the other. Their dance is so bad it actually becomes good – it is that scary.
With this, I don’t think there was anything the actors could do but to deliver some seriously shitty acting. Forest Whitaker, what in God’s name were you thinking? It was nearly impossible to get over the terrible accent to see the terrible portrayal of a power hungry, do-whatever-is-necessary-to-succeed character. If you can believe it, he actually makes Keanu Reeves look like a master of his craft. That’s right, Keanu delivers his flat, cardboardish delivery as expected, which is actually a breath of fresh air compared to what Whitaker does. Literally the only guy who comes out of this unscathed is Chris Evans. He plays the eager to get involved cop Paul Diskant. And even though his role is rather cookie-cutter, he puts all his effort into it and makes something good come out of it.
So, if I were rating Street Kings as a comedy, it would receive high honors. The unoriginal and blatantly obvious plot coupled with the comical portrayals and writing literally spells out parody movie (note: I do not endorse a cop parody film in any way, shape or form). Unfortunately, the movie takes itself seriously and therefore I must rate accordingly. I’ll call this one Crapper Kings. Flush it away.