It's not very often that the "credits line" in a movie poster will cause you to look twice, but I was both curious and intrigued when I read that David Ayer, Kurt Wimmer and James Ellroy were collaborating on a movie called Street Kings. Ayer is a prolific screenwriter who digs cop stories (he wrote Dark Blue, Training Day, S.W.A.T., and The Fast and the Furious) and recently directed his debut effort: the seriously underrated Harsh Times. Kurt Wimmer, on the other end of the genre spectrum, is the writer / director of sci-fi flicks like Equilibrium and Ultraviolet. And James Ellroy? A very respected novelist making his screenwriting debut. (His works have spawned movies like L.A. Confidential and The Black Dahlia.) And weirdly enough, although Street Kings is very similiar in theme and content to Ayer's earlier works, he's not credited as a screenwriter. Just Ellroy and Wimmer.
Anyway, I thought it was pretty interesting, but that was before I spelled it all out in a large paragraph. Now I just realize it was a cheap way to kick off a review of a film I don't really have a whole lot to say about. As yet another tale of dirty criminals and even dirtier cops, Street Kings works well enough, albeit strictly in a "been there, seen that" sort of way. (Heck, if you've seen Training Day then you've already seen much of what this new film has to offer.) It's a well-constructed piece filled with colorful actors doing fine work -- but much of Street Kings offers that weird vibe that occurs when someone's in the middle of telling a joke you've already heard two or three times: The new presenter might be a fine joke-teller, but as a listener you're left with little response but to smile and nod politely.