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Street Kings a.k.a. “The Night Watchman,” “Night Watch”

MPAA Rating: R-Rating (MPAA) for strong violence and pervasive language

Reviewed by: Rachelle Smotherman

Very Offensive
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Crime, Thriller, Drama
1 hr. 49 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 11, 2008 (wide—2500 theaters)
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Relevant Issues
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Featuring: Keanu Reeves
The Matrix,” “Constantine,” “Speed”

Forest Whitaker
The Last King of Scotland,” “Platoon,” “The Crying Game”

Hugh Laurie
“House” TV series, “Stuart Little,” “Flight of the Phoenix

Chris Evans
Fantastic Four,” “TMNT

Cedric the Entertainer, Jay Mohr, Terry Crews, Naomie Harris, Common, The Game, See all »
Director: David Ayer
Producer: Lucas Foster, Alexandra Milchan, Erwin Stoff, Julian Wall, Michele Weisler
Distributor: Fox Searchlight Picture

“Their city. Their rules. No prisoners.”

“Street Kings” is the story of a corrupt police department that justifies its actions in order to bring justice to the people… or so it seems. Keanu Reeves plays Detective Tom Ludlow, who under the supervision of Captain Jack Wander, Forest Whitaker’s character, has a green light to break whatever laws necessary to catch criminals. Ludlow finds himself questioning his loyalties while investigating the murder of a fellow detective. Granted, this isn’t an innovative police movie. Much of the script has already been played out previously in several other films, but during this movie, the viewer is left wondering who to trust and what’s really behind the character’s motives. There is just enough action and guess work to keep the audience intrigued.

Given its genre, “Street Kings” has over-the-top, graphic violence in several scenes, foul language littered throughout and plenty of characters with questionable morals. I would not recommend it for teens. That being said, this movie isn’t entirely dark and grim. Several characters provide a fresh dose of integrity and offer hope that good can triumph over evil.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Mild

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Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—Simply put, I have watched this movie more than one time if I could find it nearby sold. As you watch the main character you are drawn into his dark place in his life. This glimpse of his life is only seen in the first few minutes of the film. The story will let you read some underlining background bits of what has lead up to this time for him.

For example; His wife’s affair, he had a partner at one time they were close(script). His former partner may have been a Christian this we can get from his wife saying “not in my name” not a very common thing to say unless you know what it means. All of this is showing someone being drawn into light, his mind questions everything now so imagine his former partner preaching to him the whole time in the car.

In this film The main character’s heart changes, sure he shoots the suspects dead all the time. I see him being pulled out a little by his new girl friend, the Internal Affairs man (funny I.A. the good guys) trying to keep him in the system, but a better part of it and himself discovering; truth can be found, he has got a second chance. The end shot tells me this how? He is still standing and looking a little at ease.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Francee, age 53 (Canada)
Negative—After being invited to attend a movie last night I as a christian was shocked by the content. This movie has a lot of great actors, the story line was decent and understandable, the quality of the film was good. But the ending was abrupt—leaving you wanting to find out a bit more about the lives of the characters…

But the most important part that turned me off… was the offensive language… the f-word was used over 50 times for sure. It was vulgar and abrasive when spoken. This movie teaches teens it is okay to drink and drive, it is okay to take the law into your own hands, and that government and police officials are corrupt and can take over anything… It is a morally offensive movie towards police officers. I know life ain't perfect and there is corruption in many police forces, but the stuff that some cops got away with in this movie was really horrific and sick. It is a bad movie for anyone to see let alone a young teen. This movie encourages good people to become corrupt and dishonest. The language was beyond offensive and took over the movie.

I would never recommend this movie even if there was no foul language… the story line is so harsh and portrays only bad cops, not good cops.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Extremely Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Sherrie O'brien, age 31
Negative—Within the first five minutes I could tell the language was going to be extremely offensive throughout. Anytime women are mentioned in the film, it is in a sexual and derogatory manner. The characters kill each other without any sign of feeling or remorse. I was actually looking forward to this movie, thinking it would be a funny movie about crooked cops, but it was extremely intense and seemed to promote the idea that you should do whatever it takes to cover your own mistakes, no matter what, or no matter who has to die in the process. I would absolutely not recommend this movie to anyone under the age of 16.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 5
Jess, age 20
Negative—Around 80 f's, 50 s's, and about 200 of everything else. That's pretty much what sums up the movie, and why World Magazine gave it a “10” (maximum) for foul language. Also disturbing were several uses of 'the n-word'. Even more surprising is how poor this decision was on the part of the movie makers. This movie had potential, no, not a masterpiece by any means, but it did have potential. Without the language and crude references, I could have actually found myself cheering for Ludlow as he unravels the ring of corruption around him.

But the point of this movie is not to portray a struggle between Ludlow and Disco vs. the rest of the station and a few mobsters. The point of this movie is to get a rush, feel a bit jittery, hoot at the exaggerated, souped-up wheels, and maybe invite a few university buddies to share in the excitement of the moment. What a shame. Don't bother with “Street Kings” when there are plenty of better uses of your time and money.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Very Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 3
James, age 19 (USA)
Movie Critics
…a shrill, brutal bash set in contemporary L.A. or something like it… feels dislocated and artificial… and I couldn’t get past Reeves’ unsuitability to his role…
Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune
…A criminally bad cop thriller… laughably clichéd dialogue, one-dimensional characters and implausible turns of events. …
Claudia Puig, USA Today
…captures Ellroy's rugged energy and peculiar tone—part dirty-cop realism, part surreal exercise in ultraviolence… Pretty-boy star sullies hard-charging ‘Street Kings’…
Gary Thompson, Philadelphia Daily News
…‘Street Kings,’ the cinematic equivalent of gangsta rap, has a slight credibility problem, although this may not be an issue for people who get off on this sort of grossly violent and profane lowbrow entertainment. …
James Verniere, Boston Herald
…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
…David Ayer… 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 Guzmán, Newsday