Street Kings (R) **½


Filmmaker David Ayer continues painting L.A.'s finest as a gang of trigger-happy gunslingers who never hesitate to break the law.

By Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

Filmmaker David Ayer appears to have made it his life's mission to ensure that the world knows that when it comes to corruption, the Los Angeles Police Department ranks somewhere between the Miami International Airport and a Mexican prison.

In Street Kings, Ayer continues on the path he started with Training Day (which he wrote) and Harsh Times (which he directed): painting L.A.'s finest as a gang of trigger-happy gunslingers who never hesitate to break the law -- and sometimes go far beyond it -- in order to carry out what they consider to be their duty.

Based on a story by James Ellroy (who explored the roots of L.A. corruption in the now-classic L.A. Confidential), Street Kings stars Keanu Reeves as Tom Ludlow, a veteran detective who picked up a drinking habit after the death of his wife. Essentially a grim and unfunny version of Mel Gibson's Sgt. Martin Riggs from Lethal Weapon, Ludlow is also a loose cannon, used to shooting first and asking questions later. Fortunately, he has a sympathetic soul in his commanding officer (Forest Whitaker), who routinely covers up Ludlow's transgressions in order to keep the ace cop on the streets.

Then Ludlow starts to suspect his former partner (Terry Crews) has started snitching to Internal Affairs about his less-than-lawful methods. The plot of Street Kings centers on Ludlow's gradual redemption, which involves lots of dynamic action sequences and feverish

The picture may feel more than a little familiar, but Ayer knows how to cook up intense setpieces, and Reeves keeps getting better at the weary hero role he continually gravitates toward. If nothing else, Street Kings is perfectly passable filler to help pass the time while we wait for the return of The Shield.

Cast: Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Cedric ''The Entertainer'' Kyles, Jay Mohr.

Director: David Ayer.

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