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In the picture
Street Kings***1/2
*ing: Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie and Chris Evans
Directed by David Ayer


Gritty cop thrillers can often be complete wash outs. But any film that mentions names like Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker together just gets attention without trying too hard. And fortunately, the two actors do live up to their names in Street Kings.

In the bloody, nah bloodiest, trigger-happy, suspense-driven Street Kings, we meet our worst nightmares - cops who shot first and ask later, arrogant men who abuse power in a twisted belief that it is all for a higher purpose.

Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves), a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) veteran is over the edge since the death of his adulterous wife. A man who knocks down airplane bottles of vodka on and off duty. He kills and shoots and it's gory as hell.

Ludlow's lack of discipline is supported and encouraged by his corrupt Captain Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker).

In a bunch of rogue officers, still on duty, Tom is the main gun, doing the dirty deeds for his captain, who is also his mentor and a father figure.

Their murderous ways gets noticed by the Internal Affairs office and Capt. James Biggs (Hugh Laurie) enters the picture. And thus begins the corrupt tale of cops with excessive power and force.

Mind you, there is nothing too original about this film if you've seen movies like Harsh Times and Training Day. That said, the film works on the shoulder of its mighty cast and the suspense quotient that accelerates at a rapid speed as the film moves towards the climax.

The fact that crime novelist James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia) co-wrote the script with David Ayer (screenplay writer of Training Day) gives the film a lot of credibility.

Come to the actors and it isn't surprising that one gets hooked to the sequences and the racial, over-the-top tale of loony cops.

Keanu Reeves has been AWOL from the film scene since The Lake House. His action prowess was proven in Speed and later in the Matrix trilogy. But here he looks more haunted and defeated and brings a level of maturity that makes Tom Ludlow's character fantastic. This was not an easy role to play. There are many complexities to this role. Tom Ludlow lives in a paradox. He bends and breaks the law to protect the law. But Keanu is a powerful performer and in Street Kings, he delivers like a pro.

The other performer who deserves equal applause is Forest Whitaker. He walked away with an Oscar and a BAFTA in The Last King of Scotland. While this film doesn't give him a loaded role of a protagonist, his role is definitely a significant one.

The amount of believability he brings to the role of a corrupt captain is extraordinary. Forest is flawless.
Chris Evans, who is mostly known as Human Torch from Fantastic Four franchises is the man you root for till the end. He is an honest man who gets sucked into a bloody situation and Chris plays the role to the hilt.

Hugh Laurie is good but he needed a mightier role to show his depth as an actor, the kind we've witnessed on his show, House MD.

On the minus side, at times Street Kings could've been edited more smartly. David Ayer delivers this film after Training Day. Even though Street Kings is a complex film, it is hard to imagine that real cops do exist who get away with this much trigger-happy events before others come to haul them up.

However, as a nasty and bloody film, Street Kings entertains. Don't look for too much thought-provoking answers because there aren't any. But as a cop drama, Street Kings is worth the money.

-- Maheen Sabeeh