Twentieth Century Fox
Amaury Nolasco, left, Keanu Reeves and John Corbett in the thriller "Street Kings," which draws heavily on other films of the genre.
STREET KINGS — * 1/2 — Keanu Reeves, Forest Whitaker, Chris Evans; rated R (violence, profanity, drugs, slurs, vulgarity, gore, torture)

No matter how hard he tries, Keanu Reeves is no Denzel Washington. He's no Kurt Russell, either. And he's certainly no Christian Bale, for that matter ...

Yet "Street Kings" has him trying to play another version of the hardened, burned-out cop characters that Washington, Russell and Bale played in the movies "Training Day," "Dark Blue" and "Harsh Times."

Laid-back actor Reeves is thoroughly unconvincing, and so is the film as a direct result. Also, this police corruption thriller recalls those aforementioned movies much too heavily (it does come from some of the same creative people, after all).

Reeves stars as Tommy Ludlow, a shoot-first, ask-questions-later LAPD detective. Tommy's former partner (Terry Crews) was gunned down before his eyes recently, while he did nothing to help.

Tommy's boss, Capt. Jack Wander (Forest Whitaker), is telling him to let it be. But Tommy is haunted by the shooting and wants to find the two killers.

That means Tommy will have to work closely with Paul Diskant (Chris Evans), the young hotshot who's been handed the case. And at the same time, Tommy is being investigated by James Biggs (Hugh Laurie), an internal affairs officer who thinks he may have had something to do with the fatal shooting.

The film almost takes off when the lively Evans is paired with Reeves. But those moments are too brief and fleeting. Director David Ayer also cast rappers/hip-hop artists Common and the Game for "street cred," though they're not in it enough to make a strong impression.

And instead, he and the script force Reeves to do most of the "heavy lifting." Again, he's not particularly credible or enthralling in this role. The plot "twists" are so predictable that the entire audience will have it figured out well before the rather dim characters have.

"Street Kings" is rated R for strong scenes of violent (shootings, fisticuffs, brawling, vehicular mayhem and violence against women), strong sexual language (profanity, crude slang and other frank sex talk), drug content and references (narcotics and amphetamines), racial and other derogatory slurs, some blood and gore, and a scene of violent interrogation. Running time: 108 minutes.


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