Their City. Their Rules. No Prisoners.

Street Kings (2008)

Year Filmed:July - October 2007
Director:David Ayer
Writers:James Ellroy (story & screenplay)
Kurt Wimmer & Jamie Moss (screenplay)
Runtime:109 min
Script:The Night Watchman Draft
Articles:Focus: 'Street Kings'
Tagged 'Street Kings'
Keanu ReevesDetective Tom Ludlow
Forest WhitakerCaptain Jack Wander
Hugh LaurieCaptain James Biggs
Chris EvansDetective Paul Diskant
Cedric the EntertainerScribble (as Cedric 'The Entertainer' Kyles)
Jay MohrSgt. Mike Clady
Terry CrewsDetective Terrence Washington
Naomie HarrisLinda Washington
Martha HigaredaGrace Garcia
John CorbettDetective Dante Demille
Amaury NolascoDetective Cosmo Santos
Noel GugliemiQuicks (as Noel G.)
Michael MonksPathologist
Daryl GatesThe Chief (as Daryl F. Gates)


Detective Tom Ludlow is an LAPD cop working on his own system of justice that is not always completely legal. The death of a colleague and some unfortunate coincidental evidence places him under scrutiny as a possible culprit. He tries to clear his name by getting rid of the evidence, only to discover things about his department that he never expected.

Posters – click to enlarge


it's not what the poster looks like... (2009-06-06 00:42:11)

Forum Posts: 4842
Comments: 381
Reviews: 13
first of all, must say that this is a movie that benefits from - and actually needs - a second viewing. at least. maybe even a third. then, in order to fully understand it it helps doing some homework. I know I did. read almost all Ellroy's novels. Watched almost everything Ayer wrote. and also his previous movie Harsh Times. there are a lot of influences in this movie. after all, this is the post-modernist age...or are we leaving that one behind as well ?


the first thing that 'hits' you as you sit in the theater chair is the score . it just blends in with the images, as if it's organic. it just insinuates itself in your ears, wraps you around...and you're caught. and don't even know what happened.
(blame Graeme Revell. or thank him. whatever. )

The movie… It's not a masterpiece, it's not gonna redefine the history of cinema. But it's a well made, well-thought movie. It's not just another cop movie ; it's not "the poor man's LA Confidential" as someone wrote . If it were to be defined in such terms, I'd say it's "LA Confidential" and "White Jazz" ( the novels ) mixed, stirred, not shaken ( or was it the other way around ? ) filmed by the man that made "Harsh Times". It's Ellroy's writing, with all his classic trademark notes, and Ayer's camera. It doesn't glorify cops; it doesn't judge them either. It just puts up a mirror : if the reflected image looks ugly, don't blame the mirror… blame reality. If anything, it's an ironic ode to the last "lone ranger"- but in this case it's not Wyatt Earp, it's just an obscure LAPD cop. Times have changed, legal system has been overtaken by procedures and technicalities and lawyers that can twist words such as a murderer can walk out of court with a grin on his face, all based on a tiny slip of the law…LAPD's answer to all this is Tom Ludlow. He follows different rules ; he defines justice on his own terms. The ancient terms. The law of the street. But he does not enjoy it. It's a duty, not a passion. He takes no pleasure in the pain he inflicts upon others ; deep down inside, it hurts him too. All those images haunt him, but he never complains . Instead, he just goes more and more out of control. And we gradually learn that he was shaped to become that way ; that his mentor noticed his temper and turned Tom into his weapon. A weapon he uses according to his own agenda. And everyone manipulates him. And he's a loner par excellence. Can't relate to people, can't relate to his own emotions. So he drinks to drown them. Ludlow is not an alcoholic ; he doesn't drink to stop the shakes; he drinks to numb his feelings. And it's not working.

The movie also touches the "why's" of corruption. For some cops it's about money, for some it's about dope ; for some it's about power. For Ludlow, it's about the purpose justifies the means. He breaks the rules for justice – or his idea of justice. All he wants is to 'get the bad people', whatever it takes. The irony is that this wreck train, this loose cannon, this half-demented character is in fact an innocent. Ludlow is just a soldier, following orders, and a code of honor that goes only one way. He's just a pawn – and he'll have the fate of a pawn. Used both to open the game and to end it…

He's used and framed by the people he considers his 'family'. After all, he's a victim of his colleagues' actions, and of his own self-destructive nature. Survives betrayal, yet he doesn't really change. And as the movie develops, Ludlow's eyes begin to open…just to realize that what it looks like is not always what it is . he gets tangled in the spider's web…and there's no way out.

Acting : while the 'guest actors' fit their roles to a good extent, I'm not quite sure what Jay Mohr is doing in this movie. Forrest Whitaker's captain Wander is a 2008 rendition of a typical Ellroy character. As for Keanu Reeves…he just IS Ludlow… he was so believable it hurts. After Constantine and Bob Arctor, I thought I've seen everything. Well, I was wrong. ;)

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