Only the good cops die young in Street Kings. Okay, a lot of bad cops die young, too. In fact, there are very few cops in Street Kings who aren't bad, on some level.

The corruption extends even to the movie's protagonist, Los Angeles police detective Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves). He sleeps with a gun, drinks tiny bottles of vodka while driving, and tosses racial epithets around. And when he finds a criminal lair, he barges in and shoots everyone in sight without so much as reading anyone's rights—even if the person in question is sitting, vulnerable and exposed, on a toilet.

Due process, this isn't. But when we first see Tom in action, he does rescue a couple of young women who were being kept as sex slaves, and he doesn't kill any innocent bystanders, so in many people's eyes—including, perhaps, the audience's—he seems to be doing something right. Or, if not right, then at least forgivable. All he has to do is lie about the law-breaking and everyone agrees to look the other way.

What's more, Tom almost presents what he does as a form of self-sacrifice on behalf of other people; when his colleagues show up and ask with a grin why he didn't wait for them to join in the fun, Tom replies, "You want to see their faces every night?" The implication seems to be that Tom lives with a troubled conscience so that other people don't have to. The problem is, the very callousness of his colleagues makes you wonder if they have consciences capable of being troubled to begin with.

A few cops do express misgivings. Tom gets a visit from Captain James Biggs (Hugh Laurie, using the same American accent and cynical, sarcastic demeanor here that he uses on House), an Internal Affairs officer who has apparently been needling Tom's ...

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Street Kings
Our Rating
3 Stars - Good
Average Rating
 
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Mpaa Rating
R (for strong violence and pervasive language)
Genre
Directed By
David Ayer
Run Time
1 hour 49 minutes
Cast
Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie
Theatre Release
April 11, 2008 by Fox Searchlight
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