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Street Kings


Stars: Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Martha Higareda, Naomie Harris, Cedric the Entertainer, Jay Mohr, John Corbett, Terry Crews, Amaury Nolasco, Common, The Game

Director: David Ayer

An urban cop thriller of the everyone's-corrupt kind. There's lots of action and it's all white hot, but director Ayer proves less convincing with his actors and dialogue, although, with a screenplay credited to three very disparate writers, it's perhaps not surprising that the words often lack the impact of the action.

Reeves stars as Tom Ludlow, a maverick, vodka-swigging widower cop in the Dirty Harry mould, with a habit of not stopping to read evildoers their rights. 'Are we gonna kill 'em?' asks wide-eyed Detective 'Disco' (Evans) as they set out after dangerous suspects. 'No.' rasps Tom. 'I'm gonna ask them some questions. Then we're gonna kill 'em.'

Told his ex-partner Washington (Crews) is out to get him via Internal Affairs, Tom storms after him, but their paths cross at a convenience store where a robbery seems to be taking place - and Washington is gunned down. Given the store's security disc that seems to incriminate him by his boss (Whitaker), Tom is demoted to pen-pusher at another precinct. But it isn't long before, with Disco's help, he resolves to find out why so many secrets seem to need to be hidden.

Some of Tom's fellow cops are such nasty pieces of work that it's obvious they must be bad guys, but the gun-blasting action, hard all the way through, does compensate for some of the film's weaknesses. Reeves is just OK as always, Whitaker for once unexpectedly strident, Evans lacking in charisma and Laurie just as grouchy and gravelly as he is in House, as the IA investigator seemingly determined to nail our anti-hero's ass to the wall.

David Quinlan

USA 2008. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Fox Searchlight). Technicolor.
107 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 1, Swearing 2.

Review date: 11 Apr 2008