Street Kings

Year: 2008
Directed By: David Ayers
Written By: James Ellroy, Kurt Wimmer, and Jamie Moss


This movie came out at just the right time to get my attention. My favorite TV show of all time, The Shield, aired its final season in the fall of 2008. When this movie came out in the spring of 08 I was eagerly waiting to see how it all finished up. This movie was very similar and gave me a dirty cop fix when I was itching for some corrupt action.

Keanu Reeves played the Vic Mackey part in this movie and the movie starts right off trying to establish him as this anti hero we see so often in television. The guy has issues. He gets out of bed fully clothed, pukes a little bit, and then cleans his gun before hitting the liquor store. Then it’s straight to the streets to do the job. He’s only a little boozed up but good to go with his street talk as he enters the dirty deals that go on late in the streets. He has no problem taking an ass whooping in order to set up the bad guys. When he goes to take care of business the action doesn’t disappoint as he Vic Mackey’s the bad guys and the crime scene. Maybe this guy has unorthodox methods, maybe he drinks too many of those tiny booze bottles, but when women are trapped in closets he’s the one whose going to save them.

I love these dirty cop stories but they are all too similar more often than not. Bad cop sets up the bad guys, kills them all, plants evidence, and saves the innocence. In the aftermath there are investigations and eventually some larger conspiracy going on. The irony is that bad cop isn’t bad enough to consider joining the conspiracy and he becomes determined to bring the whole thing down. I’m always pulling for the bad cop. What they do is wrong, but who among us wouldn’t do the same thing? It’s easy to say you would always do the right thing but at one point bad cop was probably a good guy too. He started out as a good guy and got hardened by the realities of the job. After so many years on the job he’s just out to cut through all the red tape and do what needs to be done.

Terry Crews plays the inevitable Serpico good cop who still cares, or is out for revenge. It hardly matters which when he’s snitching on our anti-hero. He seems to be doing pretty good for a cop given he’s driving a Cadillac SUV, but he doesn’t make it long. As Ice Cube once said “snitches get stitches,” or in this case about a thousand bullets to the chest. Nevertheless this murder doesn’t fly with bad cop Keanu, and there’s your larger conspiracy. I think it’s a bit strange that Keanu, as the best bad cop, wouldn’t have been involved in this larger conspiracy of bad cops.

Forest Whitaker is fantastic in this movie. I specifically like it because he plays a role that is the complete opposite of the role he played on The Shield. He was a real badass on The Shield, an Internal Affairs detective out to get Vic Mackey and he had us all scared for a while. It was season 5 and Vic was really going down, no way he could get out from under Forest Whitaker. As bad ass as he was though, he couldn’t catch Vic. He got to play the bad cop in this movie and that’s one of the things I really liked about it. I’ve never been a fan of Forest Whitaker but I loved him on The Shield and have been more of a fan since then.

The cast in this movie is really deep and that’s another thing I like about it. Not a fan of Hugh Laurie because I never watched House but he brought some cool charisma to the cast. Chris Evans is always great and I like him partnering up with bad cop Keanu as he investigates whose really bad. Jay Mohr is great in the background as the mustache cop whose is quietly more of a bad cop than bad cop Keanu. This guy is always around, he was named Ronnie on The Shield. Cedric the Entertainer makes a cool appearance and so does Common. I have always been a fan of Common and I think he makes for a cool gangster.

As far as bad cop movies go this one isn’t really exceptional but there are a lot of things I still like about it. It makes for a cool action movie with plenty of exciting scenes. Holy shit the heat really rises quickly when Chris Evans takes one in the throat. Great shoot out scene that ends with Keanu using a refrigerator as a shield and shooting Common in the face.

Uh oh, he’s been set up, classic. Common and his associate were undercover cops? His friends are suddenly arresting him and probably taking him to his execution. They of course explain everything before killing him but of course bad cop Keanu has a cuff key. Bad cop Keanu has transitioned from bad cop into badass rogue out for justice. Ready to die in a blaze of glory in order to do whats right because doing what’s right is all he has left. Even tied at the hands and ankles he can overcome certain death. All the badass rogue needs is a shovel and a real bad guy’s gun to fall right into his hands.

I’m really impressed with Forest Whitaker going toe to toe with Neo in a fight scene. Of course badass rogue’s fight to the top leads to his mentor and boss. Oh how typical these stories go but it’s a cool fight scene and this has been a cool action movie. Even when Forest Whitaker is caught the sad reality is he is too powerful to tear down. He’s the man behind the curtain pulling the strings of Oz. Badass rogue can’t let such a man get away, he’ll never be brought to justice because justice is corrupt. Gotta kill the bad guy and I like that about this movie too. Although the movie should end with his arrest I like that Hugh Laurie is able to save him in the end.

This is the exact movie that gets lost in the library of time. Nothing really stands out about it and not many people watched it. It’s a cool movie though and I stand by it. It may be typical but sometimes you just need to sit back and watch a little action. This is a good movie for that. I think it is worth your time to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Stripes (1981)


Smokin Aces

Year: 2006
Directed By: Joe Carnahan
Written By: Joe Carnahan


This is a movie I like but don’t love. A movie that caught me at the right place at the right time and I thought it was cool. It’s the kind of movie that reminds me of scenarios I acted out with my action figures as a kid. A lot of cool actors were brought in and they had fun making a movie that is a lot of fun to watch.

I’m a big fan of anything that kills off most of the characters it introduces. Such boldness creates a level of unpredictability that makes the whole experience more fun. This movie doesn’t kill off all its characters but a large number of them don’t survive this shoot out. Killed without a second thought are not just the small time actors from TV playing big parts but also bigger guys like Ray Liotta and Ben Affleck. It takes a lot of gusto to pull the trigger on so many characters, it’s what we love about Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead. This movie doesn’t necessarily do it as well as those but the balls it took to do it still count for something.

How high Chris Pine has risen since this movie came out. Nevertheless, despite all of his success I still can’t see him in anything without thinking of the scene in the elevator when he licks his finger and touches the bush of the naked girl tattooed on his shoulder. It’s such an obscene gesture from a dirty and obscene character. Captain Kirk, Steve Trevor, Jack Ryan, or anybody else it doesn’t matter what role he is playing, the guy I see is the Tremor brother he played in this one. Not to say he wasn’t good in any of those roles, in fact I thought he was a terrific Captain Kirk in the Star Trek reboot. His memorable role actually came late as he was a replacement for Michael Shannon who was fired after pissing someone off.

My opinion has changed in recent years but I used to be a big time Ben Affleck hater. It was one of the things I loved about this movie back in 2007 because it was evidence that his career was spiraling down. At a time when his buddy Matt Damon was on the high horse Affleck was having trouble getting roles. Here he was in an entourage film not even making it halfway through the movie. In 2006 I found this hilarious and relished in it as a hater. Like I said, I feel differently now. Ben Affleck’s star has risen again and this time much higher than it ever had before. I initially changed my opinion when I saw him in Runner Runner and then again when he showed such promise behind the camera. His rendition of Batman sealed the deal and I look forward to what else he does with that character.

I felt Ryan Reynolds proved dramatic acting capability with this film. That unplugging scene in the end is very intense and well played by Reynolds. I am a fan of Reynolds, even after his many failures prior to the success of DeadpoolHe’s a funny guy but I think in this movie he pulls off serious and angry pretty well. I thought back in 2006 that this was proof he could move beyond Van Wilder and do better things. He has stayed true to being a comedic actor and Deadpool is just the start of more to come.

This movie was the featured film debut of both Common and Alicia Keys. I have never listened to either’s music but I thought they both gave great debut performances. Alicia Keys is cool as the sexy assassin and Common is a bad ass hit man to have at your disposal. I am a big fan of Common from his role on Hell on Wheels. An awesome show that if you haven’t seen then you’ve been missing out, it’s worth binge watching.

Without delving into the rest of the large ensemble cast I’ll simply say I liked the cast overall. It’s a really cool blend of popular TV actors, musicians, and movie stars. I love a big cast and I like it even better when you never know who among them will survive the adventure. I liked that about this movie and I enjoyed watching it again. I think this is a fun movie that is worth your time to see but I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Snakes on a Plane (2006)


Hell on Wheels


I have been watching this show since it first aired a few years ago and I have loved every minute of it.  I recently got sick and spent my time out of work watching the first two seasons of the show again.  I was really concerned when season 3 was moved to a Saturday night slot because this seemed to indicate that AMC had given up on the show.  I can’t think of any other series that airs on that day of the week.  If the Friday night slot is a death sentence for most shows then Saturday seemed to suggest it was already eight feet deep.  When the show finally aired I didn’t think this was the case.  There seemed to be far too much money put into production of the show for it to be on its way out.  I think my wife said it best when she explained to me that AMC probably knew what they were doing when they moved the show to Saturday and knew how to reach their target audience.  AMC is one of the best networks for TV dramas and I am inclined to think that whatever the reason was for the move it was a decision made for a purpose.

Season 3 has now come and gone but there has been no word on season 4.  I am getting frustrated by this because after watching the first two seasons again and seeing the third I now think this might be one of the best shows on TV.  Breaking Bad is over; it was at the top of the ladder as far as TV dramas go and while it is open for plenty of argument about who fills that void now I think Hell on Wheels has to at least be in the conversation.  This show is incredible and has consistently gotten better.  The season 2 finale was one of the greatest episodes I have seen of anything.  It’s right up there with the season 2 finale of The Walking Dead when a horde of zombies attacked Herschel’s farm.

The Swede is a fantastic bad guy, and I think the scene in which he prances through the town relishing in the chaos he has created is one of the most incredible scenes I have ever seen.  Anson Mount is more into his character playing Cullen Bohannon than possibly anybody else on TV.  There are a lot of great actors in TV shows on several different networks but Mount is Cullen Bohannon and he is such a badass.  I am a big fan of Common as an actor but I don’t feel like he has ever really fit into this show that well.  I like his character and I like him but I just don’t think he looks the part well enough.  His head is too cleanly shaven all of the time when I think his character in reality wouldn’t get it so right.  Of course that’s going too far nit picking over little details but when a show is this damn good it’s hard to find flaws.  Colm Meaney is a great actor and he is incredible on this show.  As Durant he has never failed to surprise or impress me with his portrayal. There are several other great characters on this show and as they showed up at the end of season 2 they aren’t afraid to kill any of them off.

There is one flaw I think this show has and it’s annoying but easy to overlook at the same time.  They have really put Cullen Bohannon too close to death too many times just for him to narrowly escape right before dying.  In season 3 I had about had it when he and Elam are about to be burned alive by Native Americans but got cut down at the last moment.  Aside from that, and the fact that I think Elam could have been cast better, I think the show is flawless.  I’m not talking about the historical accuracy because I’m not interested in that when it comes to TV shows.  As far as entertainment and how it measures up to others I think it is one of the best shows on TV.  It has incredible writing, great production, and an awesome cast.  I don’t know what AMC is doing by dragging their feet to renew the show for a fourth season but I sincerely hope it is not because they are considering pulling the plug.

NBC seemed really close to pulling the plug on Community last year before bringing it back when fans really spoke up for the show.  I think that needs to happen here.  Fans need to voice their support for this show to get it back.  I love a lot of television shows. Amber and I watch many on a regular basis.  I don’t think I am going out on a limb by saying this one might be the best (and yes I am considering The Walking Dead when I say this).  If you haven’t seen this show you can see the first two seasons streaming on Netflix and I strongly suggest you check it out.  I’m not at all a western fan but I am a fan of what is awesome and this show fits the bill.  Please bring it back AMC, too many things were left unsaid and I think we all need to see that railroad reach the west coast. We need to know if Elam killed that bear or if they killed each other (Eva knowing his spirit passed is not good enough).  We need to see what the Swede is going to do in the Mormon settlement.  We need to know how Cullen is going to return with a new wife and how this will affect his relationship with Ruth.  We need to know if that kid will ever get vengeance on the Swede for killing his family.  There is too much left open for this show to end so if you are reading this then sound off support for this shows return.  It would be such a waste for it to be cancelled.  If AMC kept The Killing going for another season I don’t know how they can cancel this and look themselves in the mirror every day.