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19 April 2008

Return of the Reeves

Ah, it's nice to spend a Friday night with Keanu. Every girl should get to spend Friday night with Keanu; well, I should, anyway, even if his choice of venue (skanky multiplex attached to shopping centre) left a lot to be desired, as did the company (there were about 15 people in the huge screen, eight of which were some extended family of chavs who spent the entire film talking loudly and who were sitting right in front of me). Beggars can't be choosers, I guess, and I have been spoiled by the Arts cinema with its clientèle who go to the cinema for the movies and with its absence of "witty" Orange-sponsored "we're telling you to turn off your phone but in a fun way" notices that used to be funny on a first airing but are now wearing way too thin.

Anyway, as expected, Street Kings wasn't exactly film of the year. Keanu was playing against type (well, as much as he ever plays anything; the character of Tom Ludlow, at least, was not a clear-cut hero, at any rate - no Jack Traven, certainly) as a bad cop turned good or maybe a good cop turned bad - the movie messily mashes up the definitions of good and bad, anyway, even if its moral is way too simplistic and hardly groundbreaking. The movie doesn't open well for Keanu - within the first five minutes, he vomits the second he gets out of bed, he swigs one of those minibar-sized vodkas while driving and then gets the shit kicked out of him by some Koreans, thanks to some incredibly racist comments about Asians (ironic given he's a quarter Chinese or something) - but is he just playing a part?

What follows is a needlessly convoluted and largely predictable but ultimately quite entertaining tale of double-crossing and triple-crossing, shooting, senseless violence, betrayal and who-should-I-trust? dilemmas. Keanu gets implicated in the shooting of a cop and sets out to prove his innocence, except that given that guilt and innocence are relative and subjective in this dirty world of the LAPD, what matters more than whether you committed a crime is whether the evidence shows you committed the crime. He doesn't sit around moping about what will happen if his plans go awry and he ends up in jail because he has given up on himself and on life (hence drinking at the wheel) and indeed, we get 40 seconds of back-story to "explain" why he is the way he is (wife died of a blood clot while she was with another guy who left her outside a hospital). This isn't really very satisfying and there's not anything in the way of character development but this doesn't matter too much as it's all about the action. Oh, and the shots of Keanu looking hot (yes, even post-vomiting and post-being attacked and even while acting like a bit of a tool to pretty much everyone, including the hot, Latina girlfriend).

Still, at least pitting Keanu against a cast filled with rappers and homies meant that he wasn't exactly outshadowed by his co-stars, although Hugh Laurie did pretty well as Cap'n LAPD. A lot of the script was clearly cut in favour of scenes involving Keanu looking confused and disorientated and trying to work out what crazy nightmare he was having (cf The Matrix, A Scanner Darkly, Bill and Ted...he sure is talented when it comes to acting like he doesn't know what's going on). Not that I'm complaining, of course.

It's a good thing I was distracted by Keanu, as, according to the BBFC "the film also contains some strong sex references, including comments about ‘blowjobs’ and ‘pussy’, plus some references to hard drugs and the sight, but not use of, both heroin and various pills" not to mention all the "scenes of bloody violence" (bold in original). At least there were no thematic elements, this time; those really get to me. Surely, The Matrix must have been busted for thematic elements. The Lame House, on the other hand, got reprimanded for "mild language and accident scene" - is "mild language" a euphemism for "incredibly weak dialogue and obscenely ridiculous plot and/or sense of the space-time continuum"? Equally "accident scene" is a little vague - there's a bit of a difference between accidentally forgetting to buy the coffee and accidentally dying in a horrific way √† la Final Destination (or maybe not, if you are me).

Either way, Street Kings still counts as another film in my quest to conquer cinema in 2008, which is going swimmingly (as is my attempt to stop biting my nails; so far, so good) and besides, it's not just me who doesn't really care how mediocre (or worse) Keanu's films are - his very presence on the cast list is enough to keep us buying the cinema tickets.

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