Street Kings (Ayer, 2008)

A destructive and unpredictable urgency oozes from the scum-sucking underworld of Los Angeles cop movies. This cinematic unease produces a visceral menace which ultimately overruns the ability of law enforcement to protect the innocent. Random violence and sacrifice rule the roost, even in the most controlled situations. Street Kings director David Ayer’s fourth foray into such terrain (after writing Training Day and Dark Blue while writing/directing Harsh Times), again dives head first into the shallow graves of dirty cops and drug dealers, liquor store massacres and curb side attacks. Ayer’s muse is the shimmer of Neo-noir pavement and the moral complexity of cops turning into murderers and monsters, gleefully capturing the blood and greed of a hard days work. But Ayer’s attention to genre detail doesn’t pave any new ground, nor does it produce the dangerous angst of his better projects Dark Blue has a number of devastating moments of violence which stick with you). Street Kings contains some interesting ideas, but lives and dies on its shoddy foundation, a script that suffers from over-written prose and incessant narrative idiocy. Too bad, because this sort of iconography doesn’t need much help to be electric.

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