The structure is in place -- the latticework of corruption -- only there are so many scurrilous men pulling strings that we might be watching a parade of nasty puppets, with Keanu as the chief wooden devil doll.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
Street Kings is an absurd if accidentally entertaining potboiler, based on a story by James Ellroy.
Manohla Dargis - New York Times
There's plenty of empty bravura, and Reeves is fundamentally blank and uninteresting.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
Street Kings wastes a moderately intriguing premise by filling it with laughably cliched dialogue, one-dimensional characters and implausible turns of events.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
We see the big picture way before the characters do, and that pushes us right out of the movie and back into our seats -- the last place we want to be.
Desson Thomson - Washington Post
[Director] Ayer appears to like the thrill of violence more than its philosophical underpinnings, so the movie is caught between the silly and the profound.
Wesley Morris - Boston Globe
After its cliched first scene Street Kings becomes an enjoyably tough, blood-splattered action drama that revolves around the one good cop at its center.
Joe Neumaier - New York Daily News
Street Kings is the cinematic equivalent of solid crime-genre fiction. It keeps the visual pages turning for a couple hours and navigates the dark corners of corruption and dishonor among men.
Chris Vognar - Dallas Morning News
Street Kings has hints of Training Day and the subtle aroma of L.A. Confidential, two movies concerned with the moral ambiguity and compromised honor of L.A.'s finest.
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
An anemic attempt to evoke the big, shiny action pictures of the late '80s and early '90s, the heyday of Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger, when Timothy Dalton was 007 and Clint Eastwood had fewer wrinkles and bigger hair.
Jim Emerson - Chicago Sun-Times
In Ellroy's original scenario Street Kings was a period piece, set in the 1990s just after the Rodney King riots. I wonder if it would've made more sense that way.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Another 'roid-raging dirty cop drama from David Ayer.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
Much of the casting is dead-on, from Cedric the Entertainer as a street dealer to Jay Mohr as a slimy cop and Chris Evans as an earnest rookie who saddles up with Reeves' Ludlow for an ill-fated ride.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
Street Kings wobbles increasingly as it runs along, beginning well, growing so-so and culminating in a preposterous here's-what-it-all-means confession by the main villain.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
If you've seen Training Day, you've seen Street Kings done better.
Tom Long - Detroit News
James Ellroy wrote the script; he also wrote the novel on which L.A. Confidential was based. If you're hoping for a similar intelligence, you're out of luck.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
Pic itself is similarly conflicted, glamorizing gunslinging while crying foul over unnecessary force.
Peter Debruge - Variety
Like director David Ayer's previous movies (he wrote Training Day), Street Kings is about the joy of badass coppery.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
Keanu Reeves tries his best to channel Denzel and Clint in Street Kings, a wild and woolly if also slack and silly bad-cops-kill-other-bad-cops thriller.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
The movie belongs to Reeves, who at 43 is finally starting to look like an adult, with greater heft all round. He does Clint proud.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
That Ellroy delivers a crude, undistinguished script here is a pity.
Stephen Cole - Globe and Mail
There's something cynical about Ayers' attempt to preserve Ludlow as a hero after scene upon scene meant to show, with heavy irony, how lawlessly he enforced the law.
Dana Stevens - Slate
Despite the predictability of the overall story arc, there's suspense and tension to be found between the credit sequences, but the movie is saddled with an ending that is both improbable and borderline insulting.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
Fast action combined with rock-solid characters.
Kirk Honeycutt - Hollywood Reporter
The cliches and laughably hammy dialogue are scattered about just as liberally as the spent bullet casings in Street Kings.
Christy Lemire - Associated Press
Don't get me wrong. Street Kings clips along with brutal efficiency, but the plot that sets up Tom for a frame-up is, in critic parlance, a strain on credulity.
Peter Travers - Rolling Stone
There's only the spectacle of crooked dunces slamming against each other
Fernando F. Croce - CinePassion
Peter Keough - Boston Phoenix
Devin Faraci - CHUD
A lot of reviewers seem to have disliked Street Kings because of its negative view of the LA police, and perhaps the country at large. That is not a problem for me.
Tony Macklin - Fayetteville Free Weekly
James Verniere - Boston Herald
Brian Rentschler - ScreenRant
Everything here is predictable, from the tired plot whose revelations are deeply unsurprising to the gritty dialogue and casual everyday violence of the cops involved.
Mike Goodridge - Screen International
Dean Essner - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Dean Essner - Bullz-Eye.com
Bob Mondello - NPR.org
There is certainly something compelling in the film's ideas, but the way they're executed suggest that any true questions about morality and the law are just grist for the action mill.
James Kendrick - Q Network Film Desk
A solid contemporary crime drama.
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
Keanu Reeves' bad-boy cop Tom Ludlow may not play by the rules, but the film sure does.
Tom Charity - CNN.com
Competent but fatally lacking in the element of surprise. [Blu-Ray]
Peter Canavese - Groucho Reviews
If you can forgive its stale dialogue, which at times seems so egregiously leaden that it might have been better suited to a Mad magazine parody, 'Street Kings' is a tense, aggressively absurd thriller.
Rossiter Drake - San Francisco Examiner
While military man turned director Ayer implicates our culture steeped in violence and the damaging effects of trained killing, whether by police or in war, he's assembled such a deplorable LAPD rogues gallery, it's hard to tell which one is the worst.
Prairie Miller - NewsBlaze
Ayer's rapid pacing and solid work by the cast distract us from the script's shortcomings.
Charles Koplinski - Illinois Times
Ellroy, who also co-wrote the screenplay, and Ayer share an interest in L.A. after dark, and they explore the city's neon-bathed streets with the glee of children in a funhouse, watching the distortions of everyday people in bent mirrors.
Graham Killeen - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
I don't think there were really any bad scenes, but I found the overall film emotionally empty.
Austin Kennedy - Sin Magazine
Granted, it doesn't revolutionize the cop genre, but it definitely does a solid job of entertaining for its runtime, and as a movie-watcher (and lover)...ain't much else that I can ask for than that.
JoBlo - JoBlo's Movie Emporium
[In the] surprisingly engrossing 'Street Kings,' we are presented with cops who live up to our worst nightmare of excessive force.
Lori Hoffman - Atlantic City Weekly
The movie has a million flaws, but if you can look past them and enjoy a fun, gritty, violent, racist and entertaining dirty cop film, then you will have fun with it.
Kevin McCarthy - WJFK-FM (CBS Radio)
Anyone looking for a good shoot-'em-up film should not leave the theater disappointed, but those seeking something thought-provoking might want to stay away.
Adam Tobias - Watertown Daily Times
tha mporoyse na eidothei os ena akomi kommati tis seiras aprosdokiton soykse toy box office poy dikaionei istories ekdikiton se mia Ameriki kainoyrias periodoy Rigkanismoy kai amfisbitisis tis apotelesmatikotitas tis politeias stin prostasia ton ypokeimen
Joseph Proimakis - Movies for the Masses
An archetypical Los Angeles detective story
Sean O'Connell - Charlotte Weekly
Even with the race dynamics not very scrambled, David Ayer's latest film looks a lot like Training Day.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
Street Kings feels like Lethal Weapon mashed up with The Shield, only without the former's goofy '80s vibe or the latter's relative authenticity.
Pete Vonder Haar - Film Threat
"L.A. Confidential" for Dummies...
Felix Vasquez Jr. - Cinema Crazed
Movies like "Street Kings" are sitting ducks in a shooting range for film critics who laugh all through the movie only to condemn it for being so damn entertaining.
Brian Holcomb - Beyond Hollywood
A general emptiness nags as the story progresses, undermining the solid performances and weaving in a seriously ugly message.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
"Are there any square cops out there?" says a supporting character in David Ayer's actioner. The answer, of course, is no - and this violent yarn is all the better for it. Next time out, though, he should probably assign himself a less familiar beat.
Neil Smith - Total Film
A by-the-numbers, cynical, bad cop-worse cops drama, made even less appealing by Reeves's mannequin-like presence.
Leigh Singer - Film4
If Ellroy weren't such a good writer of novels about the dark side of the American psyche, he'd be preposterous. Then again, perhaps he is perfect for these times and the city of most of his nightmares, Los Angeles.
Paul Byrnes - Sydney Morning Herald
You can almost see the writers (Ellroy, Kurt Wimmer - creator of sci-fi mish-mash Ultraviolet - and first-timer Jamie Moss) charging at one another with false antlers in a challenge to come up with the toughest soundbite.
Elliott Noble - Sky Movies
Nao trai seu universo cinico, alcancando um equilibrio que torna seu desfecho satisfatorio, mas (e ai esta a diferenca)jamais esperancoso.
Pablo Villaca - Cinema em Cena
What could have been endearingly daft remains merely forgettable.
Dean Essner - Time Out
Last-minute revelations emerge screaming from around the corner like squad cars you heard coming half-an-hour ago, and it all ends with a dull thud instead of a crash wallop. Long after you've stopped caring, it's finally over and out.
Stella Papamichael - BBC
Another mean, violent and decently acted slab of Ellroy-flavoured criminality, with an impressively battered Keanu Reeves, but Ayers is no Curtis Hanson.
Ian Nathan - Empire Magazine
Depressing and sickeningly violent.
James Christopher - Times [UK]
The movie boils down to a lot of tough-talking men trying to out-tough-talk each other. It's well-staged action stitched together by nonstop pissing-match dialogue.
Michael Dance - The Cinema Source
Watchable thriller with a surprisingly good performance from Keanu, although the plot isn't nearly as clever as it thinks it is.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
It isn't exactly the most original film but its cast and emphasis on the action makes it an entertaining diversion for a few hours.
Jeffrey Lyles - Gazette (MD)
Ayers' second straight overwrought and unfulfilling tale concerning a loco white boy knee-deep in the City of Angels' criminal scene.
Nick Schager - Lessons of Darkness
I love James Ellroy--his L.A. Confidential is a work of real genius--but I wonder if he's not something of a one-trick pony. And I wonder if that pony isn't the proverbial dead horse
Walter Chaw - Film Freak Central
Ayers makes the trip worthwhile largely through his excellent eye for asphalt level L.A. and his careful attention to Ludlow's moral dilemma.
Rob Vaux - Flipside Movie Emporium
At the end of the day, it's impossible to escape the feeling that we've seen this story told before.
Ethan Alter - Giant Magazine
What makes this movie work is Keanu Reeves' performance. For years, this actor's naysayers have complained that he shows no emotion and is one-note. They can't see the bigger picture.
Diana Saenger - ReviewExpress.com
It's all very loud and very bloody -- and somehow agreeably dumb without ever being actually good.
Ken Hanke - Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
A convoluted tale of corruption within the ranks of the police
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
It's really kind of a dirty scummy piece of work.
Richard Roeper - Ebert & Roeper
'Street Kings' is a gritty popcorn movie for adults.
Linda Cook - Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
Reeves gives us very little to work with as a hero to cheer on or to give much of a damn about.
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals
A recurring story pushed to the hilt, 'Street Kings' has a fiercely hyperbolic integrity.
John P. McCarthy - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
"Street Kings" is 107 minutes long and most casual viewers will know the bad guy's identity 100 minutes before Reeves does.
Jeffrey Westhoff - Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)
[R]elentlessly grim, relentlessly brutal, relentlessly cynical... [W]orks if you buy Reeves... as an unvarnishing mirror of exhausted but still thrashing 40ish Generation Xers...
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
There ought to be a testosterone warning posted at the box-office because overdosing is a distinct possibility, and to call Reeves'a acting wooden is an insult to Pinnochio.
Susan Granger - SSG Syndicate
The cast is filled with some very talented actors, but none of them really shines out in a film that ultimately feels like a thousand other police thrillers.
Sean McBride - Sean the Movie Guy
This ambitious rookie/jaded veteran template has become the new Hamlet. There's a conveyor belt of actors waiting to fill the roles. But as the lovable stoner comes back into fashion, I think Keanu Reeves should return to his roots.
Gina Carbone - Seacoast Newspapers (NH/Maine)
Feels like stuff left over from a random episode of CSI: Dirty Cop Division.
Scott Weinberg - Cinematical
It's never a good sign when a movie makes you laugh out loud at dialogue intended to be taken seriously.
Kam Williams - NewsBlaze
I'm a sucker for good shoot 'em up action in a flick but I am also a stickler for a good story. I got the former but not the latter.
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Scott A. Mantz - Scott Mantz' Movie Reviews
While it is not quite of the same caliber as L. A. Confidential and Dark Blue, it works well enough as a standard meat-and-potatoes example of its genre.
Peter T. Chattaway - Christianity Today
Ayer continues to milk his street cred for writing Training Day, this time adapting a James Ellroy story into a grimy copy of Ellroy's L.A. Confidential.
Sean Means - Salt Lake Tribune
The Keanu Reeves cop movie Street Kings is a viscerally compelling but thematically confused mess of an action noir that plumbs new depths of cynicism about contemporary American life in general and the Los Angeles Police Department in particular.
William Arnold - Seattle Post-Intelligencer
The charisma of its cast should be included amid its bloody body count. It's hard to know what anyone saw in this particular dirty-cop tale co-written by James Ellroy. It's not "The Black Dahlia." It's "The Black Duh-lia.
Nick Rogers - State Journal-Register (Springfield, IL)
Just a lot of huffing and puffing ... and nothing blows you away.
Robert W. Butler - Kansas City Star
Now that he is entering middle age and has packed on a few extra pounds ... I can buy Keanu Reeves as a haggard, broken down LAPD veteran ...
Greg Maki - Star-Democrat (Easton, MD)
On top of bad casting decisions, hackneyed dialogue and so much machismo it would make Mister Furley blush, the film loses sight of all the issues it brings up.
Kevin Carr - Film School Rejects
A B-level cop thriller with an A-list cast, Street Kings engages when taken on its own, trashy terms. But even at that, the film provokes unintentional laughter.
Carla Meyer - Sacramento Bee
By the gripping finale, it's clear that Street Kings is implausible in its practicalities, if not in its grand concept
Amy Nicholson - I.E. Weekly
Ayer keeps upping the ante, to the point where finally you go, "Okay, NOW this [stuff] they're doing is definitely unacceptable."
Luke Y. Thompson - OC Weekly
Street Kings, unlike the recent cop drama Gone Baby Gone, feels like it slid out of a police precinct file cabinet and slapped itself on a movie screen.
Larry Ratliff - San Antonio Express-News
The picture may feel more than a little familiar, but [director] Ayer knows how to cook up intense setpieces, and Reeves keeps getting better at the weary hero role he continually gravitates toward.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
Street Kings spends two hours unraveling a mystery that anyone with half a brain figured out mere minutes into the first act.
Brandon Fibbs - Colorado Springs Gazette
The potential match made in crime heaven has some admirably gritty action but suffers from first-degree obviousness and some bad dialogue that's especially painful when it comes out of Keanu Reeves.
Mark Rahner - Seattle Times
There's something to be said for being entertained for two hours (even if it's a guilty pleasure), something not a lot of 2008 movies have been able to pull off.
Brian Tallerico - The Deadbolt
Street Kings is buoyed by the spirit of Keanu Reeves, who never fails to astound, at least this critic, by being consistently better than he's given credit for and nearly always better than most of the films in which he appears.
Tim Cogshell - Boxoffice Magazine
Street Kings is a lean, energetic film that takes us through increasingly brutal scenes until it climaxes with a burst of violence so baroque and intense that you're not sure which part of the screen you're supposed to be looking at.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
I was halfway expecting Leslie Nielsen to make a cameo appearance as the coroner.
Bill Clark - FromTheBalcony
There's a lot to appreciate in Street Kings, a tight, propulsive action thriller, but there's one thing to marvel at, and that's James Ellroy's command of story.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
...risible dialogue, obvious 'twists' and a bad Forrest Whitaker performance.
Laura Clifford - Reeling Reviews
What drags the film down, and in the end sinks it, is its unimaginatively complete grimness and cynicism.
Kurt Loder - MTV
The film makes the point that this is the only way to really save people from evil, so it can't very well expect us to spend the next 80 minutes watching him play by the rules.
Fred Topel - Can Magazine
Fans of Keanue Reeves and Forest Whitaker will appreciate Reeves' heavy screen time and Whitaker's performance, but both actors deserve material that doesn't leave the viewer queasy and in need of a long shower.
Tyler Hanley - Palo Alto Weekly
Disposable crime flick.
Dennis Schwartz - Ozus' World Movie Reviews
...observes many of the conventions of corrupt-cop movies...
Jim Lane - Sacramento News & Review
[James Ellroy] writes Calvinist screeds against sin; filmmakers turn them into shoot-em-up thrillers.
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
Like so many thrillers with crooked moral backbones, Street Kings glamourizes the very behaviour it's condemning, lest audiences get bored by too much talk and not enough killing.
Kevin Williamson - Jam! Movies
It's a story that has been played out more times than can be counted and is none too fresh on this go-round. Street Kings simply brings nothing new to the 'bad cop' subgenre.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
"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.
Nell Minow - Beliefnet
...Street Kings ultimately comes off as an irrisistible throwback to the unapologetically over-the-top actioners of the 1980s.
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
..a slam-bang, violent, profane, non-stop action police thriller.
Tony Medley - tonymedley.com
For Street Kings, being an above-average example of an overused idea is not necessarily a bad thing.
Bill Gibron - Filmcritic.com
Street Kings proves to be as standard-issue as much of the gear assigned to real police officers ... and this familiarity often numbs the picture's effectiveness.
Matt Brunson - Creative Loafing
Street Kings has a brisk pace and performers who look as though they wish they had brighter things to say.
Harvey S. Karten - Compuserve
It does provide a compelling, edgy ride around the underbelly of life, worth the trip to bask in the tough-guy bloodshed and bullet-riddled nightlife of Los Angeles.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
Laid-back actor Reeves is thoroughly unconvincing, and so is the film as a direct result.
Jeff Vice - Deseret News, Salt Lake City
The film is undone by a story that manages to be both implausible and overly familiar. We've seen all of this before -- and we didn't buy it then, either.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
David Ayer, who wrote Training Day, directs with enough flash to keep the action crisp and nasty. But he can't swagger his way through Ellroy's swampy storyline, which traps its characters in cynicism and amorality.
Rafer Guzman - Newsday
[The] screenwriters have no time for subtlety, assaulting the ear with an arsenal of dull tough-guy dialogue as the male characters take turns mowing down each other's manhood and delivering hard-boiled pseudoknowledge about the nature of evil.
Tim Grierson - City Pages, Minneapolis/St. Paul
Street Kings doesn't stack up against Ayer's earlier works, but for basic thrills and grand-scale dramatics, it's thoroughly involving.
David Cornelius - eFilmCritic.com
Ranging from pretty preposterous to laughably bad, Street Kings is a silly and sappy melodrama that plays like an unintentional parody of old crime shows.
Steve Rhodes - Internet Reviews
Among dirty-cop actioners...hardly royalty; despite the title, it's more like a pretender to the throne. But like Reeves's Ludlow, it gets the job done.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
James Ellroy's satisfyingly solid and complex story makes a powerful structure for David Ayer's film of corrupt cops and their milieu, with the violence balanced by characterisation
Urban Cinefile Critics - Urban Cinefile
If you can get past Keanu as a tough guy and you're an action fan, you'll appreciate the lurid grandeur of the hard-charging Street Kings.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
Fast-moving and gritty and more interested in bullet-riddled genre conventions than the fear and danger that pushes honest people over the edge.
Matt Pais - Metromix.com
Working from an original story by [James] Ellroy, [David] Ayer's overwrought Kings splashes around in the slop, but its conclusions seem a little rote from these two, who have both expressed their bottomless cynicism more effectively in the past.
Scott Tobias - AV Club
"A wearying exercise in manufactured grittiness."
Brent Simon - ReelzChannel.com
Street Kings wastes a better than expected turn by Keanu Reeves. That means he never says the word 'dude' or breaks into a mean air guitar riff.
Christian Toto - Washington Times
A police thriller that's desperate to be gritty, Street Kings boasts a protagonist so dumb it takes him an hour of screen time to realize a 'plot twist' we assumed was a given.
Hank Sartin - Time Out New York
Despite only sharing credit as a co-writer, the story has Ellroy's fingerprints all over it and those familiar smudges become a detriment to an otherwise well-made film by director David Ayer.
Erik Childress - eFilmCritic.com
This film has Eric Roberts and Don 'The Dragon' Wilson straight-to-DVD written all over it.
Danny Minton - Beaumont Journal
a familiar story of corrupt cops running amok, but it never rises above the obvious.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
If only Street Kings' director, David Ayers, and screenwriter, James Ellroy, had the wit to complement Keanu's ingenuity; instead, Street Kings unintentionally provokes laughter.
Armond White - New York Press
It will feel mighty familiar to anybody who saw Ayer and Ellroy's previous collaboration, Dark Blue, as this is --almost beat for beat-- the exact same story.
Sean Burns - Philadelphia Weekly
The film is mainly a showcase for shouting.
Alonso Duralde - MSNBC
If you completely ignore the fact it's ludicrous and the twists are spelled out hours in advance, then it's not a total waste of time.
Rebecca Murray - About.com
Street Kings isn't a bad movie, it's just that it's not a very new one.
Joshua Tyler - CinemaBlend.com
A combination of implausible plot-points, and the miscasting of television's Hugh Laurie as Internal Affairs chief Captain Biggs, hampers a convoluted crime thriller that is nonetheless entertaining for its grotesque action sequences.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Surely two decades of TV's post-Bochco dirty-cop dramas have removed this kind of potboiler not only from claims of artiness, but from expectations of being taken seriously.
Bill Weber - Slant Magazine
A disappointingly routine policier, a genre item in which the only "new" element is the degree of corruption and cynicism.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com
Dave White - Movies.com