Saturday, July 05, 2008

Street Kings

2006, US, directed by David Ayer
Director David Ayer's first big critical success was his script for Antoine Fuqua's 2001 Training Day, and he has been mining the raw-edged turf of LA policing ever since. Though the script this time around originated with James Ellroy, another writer fascinated by violent action and complex plotting - perhaps to excess at times - the film comes across as a kind of sequel to Training Day and as with most sequels the qualities that made the original intriguing have been removed in favour of a much more simplistic set-up. Keanu Reeves's cop, Tom Ludlow, is an almost comically jaded and flawed detective, starting his day by vomiting into his toilet and then heading out for a few shots of vodka behind the wheel (followed by a little of the old ultra-violent policing; the body count is extremely high).

That Reeves happens to be rather good cast against type, pudgier around the edges than normal - the absolute antithesis of the conventional LAPD hero material of Speed - makes it disappointing that Ayer and Ellroy can't do something more interesting with the material. Ultimately, they simply reiterate the by-now commonplace notion that the LAPD is an irredeemably compromised, and often corrupt, society unto itself. Ayer seems to have asked Forest Whitaker (as Jack Wander, Ludlow's superior) to continuing channeling Idi Amin for his role, a kingpin cop who possesses a strange mix of beguiling charm and ruthless self-justification, one eyelid drooping precariously low.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States