Review: Streets of Blood

Set in post-Katrina New Orleans, Val Kilmer is one of a bunch of narcotics cops who will do whatever it takes to clean up the streets, rife with crime, chaos, and drugs. His former partner died under what Kilmer feels were suspicious (i.e. murderous) circumstances. Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson is Kilmer’s new partner, recently relocated from Chicago, and trying to earn a living for his wife and kids. He is taken aback at first by his seasoned partner’s willingness to bend the rules to get the needed results. Jose Pablo Cantillo and Brian Presley are two cops who have even less scruples than Kilmer and Jackson, whilst Michael Biehn (who played Johnny Ringo to Kilmer’s Doc Holliday in the excellent “Tombstone”) is the aggressive FBI agent looking to take all of the corrupt cops down, including their boss, played by Barry Shabaka Henley. Sharon Stone is the police shrink whom Kilmer visits and regularly spills his guts to.

For this 2009 cop flick, I think director Charles Winkler (“The Net 2.0”) and writer Eugene Heiss were going for gritty realism to the nth degree. Unfortunately, what they’ve actually made is a terrible, clich├ęd film, even worse than the overrated “Training Day”. The shaky HD photography by Roy H. Wagner is some of the worst I’ve ever seen, making almost everything impossible to see, particularly in the night scenes. The daytime scenes are just as bad, with Stone being as poorly photographed as I’ve ever seen her. Worst of all, the film is unendurably, unremittently, unrelentingly, and (most importantly) uninterestingly ugly from beginning to end. This is just an unpleasant and irredeemably dark film, in which the film’s cleanest major character, played by Kilmer, is simply the least dirty of a bunch of dirty cops. He’s still trigger-happy and not above ‘fixing’ crime scenes, in fact the film got less and less believable for me with every successive corrupt act by Kilmer’s gang and others. Kilmer’s pretty bad in the part, too, seemingly too concerned with getting his New Orleans accent right (it comes across as forced, and good luck understanding most of his dialogue!). I’ve never been a massive fan, but to go from playing Jim Morrison to taking parts in direct-to-DVD films that Cuba Gooding Jr. turns down is a massive plunge downward in the talented actor’s fortunes (and let’s not begin to talk about “Hardwired”, starring both Gooding and Kilmer). Stone is abysmal, with one of the least convincing New Orleans accents you’ll ever hear. She’s never had what it takes to do hard-boiled characters (remember “The Quick and the Dead”?) and she certainly botches it here, showing yet again that “Basic Instinct” was the only role she could convincingly play (Apologies to “Casino” fans, I think she brought that film down a peg, Oscar nom or not).

The best work comes from a surprisingly quite competent Jackson and the always dependable Biehn, who isn’t in the film nearly enough. The screenplay, meanwhile, is as incoherent as the photography, and ultimately there doesn’t seem to be any point to all the ugliness. When one character makes a surprise ‘heel turn’ (to use a wrestling term for ‘villain’), the film was already so confusing that I didn’t even care. The second so-called ‘surprise’ turn, however, can be seen a mile away.

There’s nothing to like about this one, and at no point did I care. It’s just a horrible, ugly, endless bloodbath. Heiss’ screenplay was based on a story by Heiss and Dennis Fanning. New Orleans has had enough problems, why’d they need to go ahead and make this shit?

Rating: D+


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