‘Street Kings’ raises questions about police ethics and crime

Alex G-Smith

If seeing the movie “Crash” was not reason enough to distrust cops, then look no further. Upon first hearing the title “Street Kings,” I assumed that it would be just another clich’eacute; gang rivalry, shoot em up, break dancing movie, with a hot girl in a bikini shooting a 44 magnum while driving a motorcycle.

However, I was pleasantly and genuinely surprised to see that its message was far more sinister and dark than any cop movie I have ever seen. “Street Kings,” which hit theaters April 11th, is a suspenseful and enthralling fictional account of an officer who sets out to redeem himself amongst the corruption he faces in his own police unit.

Keanu Reeves stars as detective Tom Ludlow, a man who is obviously quick to pull the trigger, and since losing his wife, he has good reason to be coarse. After evidence frames him at the sight of the murder of a fellow officer, and his ex-partner, Ludlow takes it into his own hands to find the real gunmen. Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Common, Cedric the Entertainer, Jay Mohr, and Terry Crews make up an excellent supporting cast of men who the detective must question to discover what actually happened. Unfortunately for detective Ludlow, there is much more to the story than what is written down in the police reports. Betrayal, lying, and bribery become intertwined in the Los Angeles Police department’s code of ethics. It is not about “protecting and serving,” but more so about how much money they can get from the bad guys to keep their dealings under wraps. “We’re cops, we can do whatever we want. It doesn’t matter what happens, it’s how we write it up,” said Keanu Reeves, as detective Ludlow.

The film is done in third person narrative, so as you go along with the detective, you only know what he knows, and have no idea what the other characters are going to do. There are some very good action sequences, and better yet, they are authentic.

As Ludlow runs around Los Angeles, you get the feeling that there might be something waiting for him right around the corner. The suspense is very well portrayed, as the aesthetics of grimy downtown L.A. make you feel like you are searching alongside the detective, walking down the gritty streets that are overwhelmed with crime, and questioning everything you know.

Considering that movies like these have been plagued with a reputation to have goofy one-liners, this film in particular was very well written. There are some very insightful and profound ideas in Street Kings that will lead you to question human ethics and what we will do for money, no matter who its coming from.

As the sides change, and people become more and more connected, you will find yourself wondering if this sort of debauchery really occurs in our police system. If you are looking for an honest movie, combined with surprising plot turns and an incredibly intertwined story with no way of predicting what will actually happen, then “Street Kings,” whose title becomes self-evident in the dialogue, is a worthy choice.

Since the believability and police ethics depicted in Street Kings are simply too realistic to wave off, you will be contemplating as you leave the theater if it was really “just a movie.”