THRILLER; 1hr 42min
STARRING: Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker
It’s a familiar, ironic refrain that police, as guardians of public safety, are a hair’s breadth away from a fall from grace. Bruised by his personal and professional life, LAPD detective Tom Ludlow (Reeves, unsmilingly intent) masks his rigid commitment to getting the job done with a Teflon coating of cynicism. Ludlow is a messed-up customer — his wife is dead, he drinks too much, Internal Affairs (in the bulldog presence of Hugh Laurie) is at his heels, and his ex-partner, with whom he is feuding, is gunned down in circumstances that set him up. His too-smooth boss (Whitaker) pulls every string to keep him out of trouble, but Ludlow, flailing and angry, is on a quixotic crusade to clear his tarnished name.
Working from the 1997 story “The Night Watchmen” by James Ellroy (who co-adapted the screenplay), director David Ayer goes to hell and back with his hardboiled cops. Street Kings is so anarchic and brutal it’s like bathing in blood as Reeves and a mouthy, fiery cast take corruption to the outer limits.