Thursday, April 24, 2008
Street Kings--The Departed for Dummies
I won't go into detail about Street Kings. If you haven't already gathered, this is rarely my type of movie. I'm talking of course about the cop movie. It's been done to death, with rarely anything new or interesting to bring to the genre. Occasionally, there will be a cop movie that, for whatever reason, tickles my fancy. Training Day and The Departed are two more recent examples. Do I think The Departed was the best picture of '06? Not really. And it would have been nowhere near the Oscars if it had been directed, frame by frame, exactly as is by, say, F. Gary Gray. But it was fun. Great dialogue, superb cast, and a nice water-cooler ending. Ditto for Training Day. But there isn't enough in Street Kings to keep me interested and take it seriously. Keanu Reeves is no Denzel Washington, or Leo Dicaprio, or Mark Wahlberg or Jack Nicholson or Matt Damon. Hell, Reeves is barely even a Kevin Corrigan (who incidentally enough has the best line in The Departed: "Puerto Ricans think they know everything. If they knew shit, they wouldn't be Puerto Rican).
I digress. I don't think Reeves is the worst actor in the world. Let me put that statement in perspective. I think he's probably a better actor than say, me. But that's not saying much. I left Street Kings knowing once and for all that Keanu Reeves is a bona fide movie star. He has to be. That's the only explanation for his continued popularity, and his ability to get work. Then again, maybe I'm biased. I'm part of the one-percent of the population who didn't think that The Matrix was the second-coming. There are only a few of us, and we meet on the first Tuesday of every month to eat pizza and watch Dark City. But let's set Keanu aside, as he is (believe it or not) hardly the worst of Street Kings's problems.
Again, I won't try to explain the details, but only because I'm struggling to remember them (I saw the movie less than four days ago). The movie is ridiculously overlong and intricate, but not intricate in a good way. Intricate in a needlessly complicated kind of way. Kind of like the last episode of "Roseanne." I do have some questions. First in my mind, what the hell was up with Forest Whitaker in this movie? Seriously. It was like high camp, but he didn't quite commit. My only explanation was that he was on qualudes or something. Secondly, why is Chris Evans giving the best performance in this film? Chris Evans?! Really? Is he one to watch? Why do the filmmakers think that putting narc mustaches on John Corbett and Jay Mohr will make us forget that it's John Corbett and Jay Mohr? Yes, we recognize you. Yes, you're both still boring. And finally, there's Common. I love Common as a rapper. I want to see him make the transition to serious actor. But the roles he chooses to take seem to run maddeningly counter to his sensibilities. It's mind-boggling.
There are some things that make this movie watchable. Hugh Laurie. Yes, House himself. Stuart Little's Daddy. And as far as April at the movies go, you could do a lot worse than Street Kings. But alas, I'm not grading on a curve. And wanting a movie to be over a good forty minutes before the ending is seldom an indication of a movie I'd recommend. Especially when there are other cop movies, both on the high and low end of cinema, much more worth seeing than this.