Street Kings David Ayer

Street Kings David Ayer
David Ayer makes for an interesting case history. Few filmmakers will give us the unpleasant truth that certain elements of law enforcement are in the job purely to use guns and abuse their power. But as much as he makes that connection, he’s still as macho as his subjects and can’t see that he’s traded a badge for a camera on similarly specious grounds. Thus when LAPD Detective Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) does a bad thing, covers it up and his outraged partner winds up dead, the ensuing fight with police culture doesn’t exactly ring true. Set for no obvious reason in Rodney King era L.A. (which probably made more sense in James Ellroy’s original script), it has us rooting for a rather shady person not by revealing his complexity but by discounting his contradictions, and this "give with one hand, take with the other” approach illustrates how the movie wags its finger at brutality while getting off on it. As the moral inconsistencies pile up and the foul, racist language goes off the chart, it’s clear that Ayer is using the movie in the same manner as these cops use the law: as a confused means of male fronting, showing your importance while juicing up a power trip. The Psych 101 paper on the guy might be interesting but his movie is a sordid, pointlessly unpleasant mishmash that never once seems credible. Extras include an Ayer commentary, which surprised me with the free pass it gave certain characters, 16 deleted scenes, ten alternate takes, a smattering of featurettes that feature the director on the prowl with an ex-cop, discussing the script and condescending to the "street cred” (i.e., black actors), and some brief behind-the-scenes promotional clips made for another context. (Fox Searchlight)