Thomas Ludlow is a driven police detective, having suffered his own personal tragedy, he’s now extra hard on himself and he focuses it all into his work, doing things that other cops wouldn’t do to see that justice is served. He’s effective in his ways, and though those ways could be professionally costly to him, he’s well-protected by his direct superior, Captain Jack Wander head of L.A.’s Vice Special unit. Ludlow’s methods have cost him the friendship of his former partner, Washington, who he’s found out is informing to Internal Affairs. One afternoon, Ludlow trails Washington to simply get in his face about this, but at the conveninece store where he catches up to him, it’s suddenly under attack by two masked men, viciously killing Washington in the process. Things look bad for Tom Ludlow, because of this, and though Ludlow is protected yet again by his captain, his own sense of justice won’t let him rest on this. Now, working with an independent detective named Paul Diskant, Ludlow seeks to find the real killers of his former partner, unaware of where the whole thing will lead him.
Street Kings is the second movie from director David Ayer, who previously made Harsh Time with Christian Bale and before that wrote the Antoine Fuqua film, Training Day starring Denzel Washington, so Ayer is no stranger to this sort of hard-hitting crime drama. I thought Harsh Time was decent but somewhat lacking, but think he’s more than made up for it with Street Kings which is extremely well-paced, well-acted and very driven in getting it’s point home.
While there’s elements of the film that aren’t anything new, the way Ayer has put everything together still comes together as an effective crime thriller with one terrific ending.
Ayer’s cast really carries the day here. Keanu Reeves plays Ludlow, and manages a way to keep himself both dark and also the focus of the audience’s concern. Forest Whitaker is quite good as Jack Wander, and the scenes that both have together, especially near the film’s climax are really nicely done. Chris Evans, who put himself more on the acting map with Danny Boyle’s Sunshine goes up another notch here as Diskant, and working with Reeves, they actually make a pretty good on-screen team. The rest of the cast, filled out by guys like Hugh Laurie, Jay Mohr and Cedric The Entertainer all play their parts very well. Honestly, I don’t have a single complaint about this cast in the slightest.
If you like hard-hitting cop/crime thrillers, well then Street Kings to fill that bill. Like I said above, there’s nothing overtly original here, but it’s all put together in a very entertaining way, and it certainly gets a recommendation here.