Movie Mom

“Street Kings” is a like a Cliff’s Notes version of Training Day not that Training Day was any special challenge to the mental muscle. Corruption is bad, we get it.

At least that movie had a sizzling performance and an intriguing premise, a young cop’s introduction to the seamy underworld. This one has neither. It is big, dumb, loud, generic, and, worst of all, pretentious.

Keanu Reeves plays Tom Ludlow, and we meet him in what appears to be his daily waking ritual — grab gun, barf, and stop at the liquor store, as the bass line bangs away portentously. Then he and some gangstas try to out-tough each other with threats and insults over some deal. To no one’s surprise except the gangstas, he turns out to be a cop. He goes into the bad guys’ house, guns blazing, and takes everyone down all by himself, for no reason whatsoever except showing off.

Detective Washington, Tom’s former partner (Terry Crews) has been telling Internal Affairs about some of the ways that Tom and his colleagues under Captain Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker) cut corners. Let’s just say that they are not exactly scrupulous about due process. When Washington is killed, Tom is the likely suspect. Investigating that crime exposes the vast reaches of corruption and betrayal. And it provides the opportunity for many, many shoot-outs and other violent confrontations.

It is all supposed to be very tough and meaningful, but even an exceptionally strong cast can’t save dialog like, “This is your mess and I’m cleaning it up,” “It’s time to turn the page and close the book,” and “I gotta watch my own back these days.” Anyone who has ever seen a movie will be able to guess the twist within the first 10 minutes. After that, it’s just waiting for Tom to catch up to you.

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