Street Kings (2008) Review

I’m in two minds about Keanu Reeves. He has a somewhat deserved reputation as being someone who can’t act. He can come across in roles as wooden, repeating his lines with little or no emotion, regardless of what is going on in the scene. On the flipside of this, he has starred in some of the coolest films of all time. You can’t argue with what he does in The Matrix and before that he was even holding his own as a fully fledged action hero in the incredible Speed.

Keanu Reeves showing he can do “Action Hero.”

Granted, neither of these films require him to pull out the big guns when it comes to acting but neither are easy, cruise along films either. If you want Oscar worthy and heavyweight, don’t go looking for Keanu Reeves. If you want a strong, hard-working, appealing actor, you could do worst!

Street Kings fits into the second category. This role required a lead who could hold a film, hold his own against some other heavyweight and notable actors and also give his full in some pretty brutal action scenes and Keanu does all of that. Street Kings is also a brilliant film because of it.

I added Street Kings to my LoveFilm list because I remember being intrigued by the trailer a long while ago. I watched it with little expectation, thinking it would be another “cop thriller” trying to piggy back off what Training Day achieved. From the moment it began I found myself intrigued and then engrossed. Keanu Reeves, again, doesn’t have to do much in the way of acting but does come across convincingly as the “badass dirty cop,” opening the film with a cool sequence in which he saves two kidnapped girls. From there it’s a game of cat and mouse, double-crossing and set up as you try to work out who the good guys and bad guys are and how Keanu Reeves character fits into the centre of the story.

Mr Whitaker, adding some heavyweight acting to the film.

It’s also a film that has a ridiculous amount of notable and very good actors in. Forest Whitaker and Hugh Laurie are probably the two best actors in it but Chris Evans also gives a good account of himself too. There are also a host of other actors that you will recognise from loads of other films but won’t actually know by name… including Cedric the Entertainer. The actors seem to bring their all to the roles too, Forest Whitaker in particular. He’s brilliant in Last King of Scotland and can act in heavyweight roles but doesn’t shy away in this like many other “big” actors would have been tempted to do. You can see that the people involved really respect the film.

Bet you recognise this guy but don’t know his name…

The random actors in what feels like a low-key film usually means that the film is an easy payday or actually pretty good. Luckily, this one fits into the second category again. It speeds along at a fantastic pace, flipping the story at key parts so that you don’t see the twists and revelations coming. It may have huge holes in the plot that become apparent with some scrutiny but I wasn’t aware of them. In any case, I don’t think plot holes of any kind matter if the film executes the story well. I’m not someone who labours over each part of the plot, telling the world why it wouldn’t have worked.

Overall, this film completely surprised me. It wasn’t that I thought it was going to be rubbish but I didn’t expect to be engrossed from the beginning and getting involved in how the plot panned out, at times really rooting for the hero. If you like a good “cop thriller,” in some ways resembling Training day, you could do a lot worst than give this film a look. Highly recommended.

Rating 4

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

Bet you recognise him too…. go on, what’s his name?!
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