Do you ever have that moment while watching a movie when you realize that the mind-thuddingly obvious plot twist is supposed to be the film’s big secret? I had that moment quite early on in Street Kings. Keanu Reeves plays Tom Ludlow, a corrupt LAPD cop (is there any other kind?), but he’s the best of the bad guys. Sure, he’s morally compromised, but at least he actually believes in getting the criminals (and by “get” I mean gunning them down in cold blood, but hey, it’s a start). It’s Tom’s captain buddy Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker) and his shifty squad mates who are the real low lifes.
Early in the film, Tom’s ex partner Washington (Terry Crews), who apparently left Wander’s team because he couldn’t handle its shaky ethics, is killed by two gang bangers in a convenience store. Inconveniently, Ludlow was there, too, actually about to beat the stuffing out of Washington for ratting out his brutal methods to Internal Affairs. (Hugh Laurie, Dr. House himself, plays the smirking Internal Affairs chief.)
Can you say, “Let the cover up begin”? The mystery is over who is behind Washington’s slaying. (And if you’ve seen Training Day, Dark Blue, L.A Confidential, et al, I’m pretty sure you’ve sussed it out by now, too.)
Chris Evans, the Fantastic Four cutie, is on hand as an impressionable cop who assists Ludlow, and Cedric the Entertainer and the rappers Common and The Game have well-placed cameos, upping the film’s hipness quotient.
If you can get past the gratuitous violence and hilarious scenery chewing (from everyone but Keanu, who mostly plays it cool), Street Kings is actually kind of fun. Just don’t expect any surprises.