Keanu Reeves plays Tom Ludlow, a heavy drinking LAPD Vice Detective who is known for bulldogging into situations that usually leave a hefty body count.
Forest Whitaker, Tom's supervisor, understands the importance of Tom's tactics on a criminally diseased city. As a result he's been covering the rogue cop's tracks since they started the beat. Forest defends the necessity of someone who's not afraid to bring blood to the hood.
Hugh Laurie is the Internal Affairs Captain hot on Tom's trail. He knows what he's up to but only needs the evidence to stop him. His character is always lurking in the shadows, waiting for Tom to mess up. It's that internal department battle between right and what's legally right.
After the initial character development an old partner of Tom's is murdered. Being in the wrong place at the wrong time Tom takes a lot of the blame (mostly because the two did not get along) making it his personal vendetta to uncover the hit and unmask the hitmen.
Street Kings opens up with a bang. I love Reeves when he plays these down and out, end of the rope characters (like John C.) In my unprofessional opinion he does them well. His character Tom is a lonely drinking man who is still scarred from the classic dead wife syndrome. He rides the LA streets with air plane bottles of vodka terrorizing the lives of the criminals. I'm glad to see he carried the role and carried it well. I feel like if this movie tanked it would begin the down ward spiral of Neo.
Forrest was good. He plays up the hand motions and glares the glare with that one crazy eye. He switches between friends to friends and enemy to enemies very well. He walks into a room and you don't really know what he's about to throw down... good cop or bad.
The rest of the cast like Hugh Laurie and Chris Evans fill their spots as expected. Both playing the roles they know best. No other real stand out performances either. I'm just glad the rappers like Common and The Game stuck to what they do best...being the thugs.
The story? Eh... the story is the story. It serves its purpose in twisting through the ranks of "who done it?" and "who's next?" but ultimately is nothing amazing or captivating. In my opinion it served it's purpose for a mainstream crowd who is more than likely filling the bleachers for rappers, boobs, bombs, and bloodshed. If this is why your taking the seat then Street Kings does not disappoint.
Definitely not a ground breaking cop movie like Lethal Weapon or Training Day but definitely not the sinking ship of Dark Blue or City by the Sea. If you're looking for a comparison I would say on par with We Own the Night.