Volume 77 / Number 48 - April 30 - May 6, 2008
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since

Koch on film

“Street Kings” (-)

An action packed film that is not very engaging.

Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a tough, corrupt, undercover Los Angeles detective with a mission to rid the city of low-life people like drug dealers. His exchange of insults with them results in one occasion of his being severely beaten. In movie land style, however, he quickly recovers and resumes his vigilantism by planting guns on the thugs so as to provide the excuse that they shot at him before he killed them.

Ludlow’s former African-American partner, Terrence Washington (Terry Crews), confronts him for his renegade ways, to which Ludlow responds, “I’m racist.” Ludlow’s boss, Captain Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker), intercedes on his behalf, as he has done on previous occasions when the detective’s actions could have resulted in his dismissal from the force. The investigation of a murdered police office reveals corruption throughout the department.

While there’s plenty of action in this picture, I lost count of the slain bodies and stopped caring. Mention of Detective Ludlow’s continued grief over his wife’s death is made as well as his heavy drinking, but the reasons for his angry behavior are never developed.

Reeves has put on weight, perhaps intentionally for this role, which minimizes his Eurasian look. He is no longer the lean, good-looking kid he was in “My Own Private Idaho.”

Apparently word is already out that this flick is lacking. When I saw it on opening night, the theater was only half-full.

HS said: “I rather liked the movie, even though Keanu Reeves seems to be morphing into Jack Nicholson. Loads of bad guys were killed, usually shot in the head so blood dripped from their mouths, sometimes lingering a few moments before the head lurched to the side. A couple of good guys too, but there weren’t that many honest cops in the movie. The characters were mostly LAPD, with a couple of sheriff’s deputies thrown in.

“I wonder what Chief Bratton thinks of this depiction of his force. The vice squad was violent, inept, corrupt, and evil. One subtext was the flawed superhero, another was bad guys turning good, and people who looked good really being bad. No matter, they all bit it. I confess, lowbrow me, I was entertained. The senior reviewer has more sophisticated taste in films, and he has seen many more of them than I have.”

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