Street Kings is a 2008 American crime thriller film directed by David Ayer, and starring Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Hugh Laurie, Chris Evans, Common and The Game. It was released in theaters on April 11, 2008. The initial screenplay drafts were written by James Ellroy in the late 1990s under the title The Night Watchman.
Promotional movie poster
|Directed by||David Ayer|
|Story by||James Ellroy|
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Edited by||Jeffrey Ford|
|Distributed by||Fox Searchlight Pictures|
|Box office||$65.5 million|
Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a disillusioned LAPD Vice detective working for a unit known as Vice Special and haunted by the death of his wife. Working undercover, he meets in a parking lot with Korean gangsters who are looking to buy a machine gun from him and who he also believes have kidnapped two Korean schoolgirls. After a vicious beatdown, the Koreans steal his car. This was planned, however, and he has the cops locate the vehicle via GPS. Upon arrival at their hideout, Ludlow storms in and kills the four gangsters inside, then locates the missing children after the shootout and altering the crime scene such that he killed the gangsters by returning fire. While the other officers in his unit congratulate him, he is confronted by his former partner, Detective Terrence Washington (Terry Crews), who no longer approves of the corruption as well as the deception and has gone straight, reporting the problems to Captain James Biggs (Hugh Laurie), of Internal Affairs, who apparently starts an investigation against Ludlow.
Believing that Washington was "snitching" on him, Ludlow follows him to a convenience store to beat him up. However, Washington is executed in the store in an apparent gangland hit albeit with heavy fire by two gangbangers under the pretense of a robbery. Though Ludlow is innocent and the two were working together to fight back, the surveillance video of the shootout shows him to have accidentally shot Washington while trying to protect him with his .38 revolver, which can heavily implicate him in the murder. The DNA of two criminals known as Fremont and Coates is found at the scene, as well as a large amount of cash in Washington's possession. It is assumed that Washington himself was corrupt, despite his seemingly changed attitude, and that he had been stealing drugs from the department's evidence room and selling them to Fremont and Coates. Ludlow teams up with Detective Paul "Disco" Diskant (Chris Evans), who has been assigned to the case to join him in his personal investigation.
Their search for the two involves some tough interrogation of a Latino gang member named Quiks (Noel Gugliemi), a Crips gang member named Grill (The Game), and a drug addict/dealer named Winston "Scribble" (Cedric the Entertainer), which eventually leads them to a house in the hills where they discover the bodies of the real Fremont and Coates buried in a shallow grave. The condition of the bodies makes it apparent that they were killed well before Washington's murder. Ludlow and Disco, posing as dirty cops who are willing to take over Washington's supposed activity of stealing and selling drugs, are able to set up a meeting through Winston with two criminals masquerading as Fremont (Cle Shaheed Sloan) and Coates (Common). Freemont and Coates then recognize Ludlow as the cop that was present at the convenience store robbery, prompting Ludlow to question who Freemont and Coates really are, and in turn Disco quickly states he recognizes the two, and he is shot and killed immediately, along with Winston. Ludlow manages to kill both men and escapes back to his girlfriend's house, where a news report reveals the killers were undercover LASD deputies (Wander later states that the two had been in deep cover for so long that they "lost their fucking minds" and had become corrupt cops).
Shortly afterward, Ludlow is subdued at his girlfriend Grace Garcia's (Martha Higareda) house by Detective Cosmo Santos (Amaury Nolasco) and Detective Dante Demille (John Corbett), two fellow officers from his unit who admit that they planted Fremont and Coates' DNA and the drugs at the scene of Washington's murder, and Ludlow learns that it was their captain, Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker), not Ludlow, that Washington was giving up to Biggs, and they were the ones that were stealing drugs from the department's evidence room. The two cops take Ludlow out to the house where the two bodies of the real Fremont and Coates were found earlier, for execution. However, Ludlow manages to kill both of them. He then heads to Washington's house to take care of their supervisor, Sergeant Mike Clady (Jay Mohr), who was about to kill Washington's widow. He captures Clady and places him in the trunk of his car.
Ludlow eventually learns that he has been a pawn in a plan masterminded by Captain Wander. He shows up at his house intending to kill him and after a brief struggle, he finds out that Wander has incriminating evidence against almost all in the department, as well as judges, councilmen and politicians. With so many people in Wander's pocket, he has been able to quickly move up the department's ranks as well as conceal his unit's corruption. He then tries to convince Ludlow that he is his friend and best officer before trying to bribe him with a large amount of stolen money and incriminating documents hidden in a wall of his home. Angry with all that he has been made privy to and how it has come about, Ludlow shoots and kills Wander.
Captain Biggs and Sergeant Green arrive at the scene, and Biggs reveals to Ludlow that they used him to bring down Wander and get access to his files by opening his eyes to the real corruption going on within his unit. As he leaves, Biggs tells Ludlow that the department does need him.
- Keanu Reeves as Detective 2nd Grade Tom Ludlow
- Hugh Laurie as Captain James Biggs
- Chris Evans as Detective Paul Diskant
- Forest Whitaker as Captain Jack Wander
- Naomie Harris as Linda Washington
- John Corbett as Detective Dante Demille
- Cedric the Entertainer as Winston AKA "Scribble"
- Jay Mohr as Sergeant Michael "Mike" Clady
- Terry Crews as Detective 2nd Grade Terrence Washington
- Common as corrupt psychotic LASD deputy masquerading as "Coates"
- Cle Shaheed Sloan as LeShawn, a corrupt psychotic LASD deputy masquerading as "Fremont"
- The Game as Grill
- Martha Higareda as Grace Garcia
- Amaury Nolasco as Detective Cosmo Santos
- Clifton Powell as Sergeant Green
- Noel G. as Quicks
In 2004, it was announced that Spike Lee would be directing the film for a 2005 release. In 2005, it was announced that Oliver Stone was in talks to direct the film. However, Stone later denied this. Training Day screenwriter David Ayer took over the project.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 36% rating based on 151 reviews and an average rating of 6.8/10 on IMDb. The site's consensus reads, "Street Kings contains formulaic violence but no shred of intelligence." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 55 out of 100 and 7.4/10 based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
In its opening weekend, the film grossed $12 million from 2,467 theaters, finishing second at the box office. It went on to gross $26.4 million domestically and $39.2 million internationally for a total of $65.6 million.
The DVD was released on August 19, 2008, as a single-disc offering with director commentary, and 2-disc special-edition set with numerous documentaries, interviews and a digital copy of the film. It is also available on Blu-ray disc with all the special features of the 2-disc DVD version.
The film is followed by a sequel, Street Kings 2: Motor City, released direct-to-video in 2011. Other than sharing an actor playing two different parts, the films are unrelated.
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