Netflix is filled full of things that shouldn’t be watched. For an example, take a look at Street Kings 2: Motor City. The original film, Street Kings starring Keannu Reeves wasn’t great and reeked of mediocrity. So why would one expect a direct to DVD sequel would be better? I tried to use The Marine logic (as I enjoyed The Marine 2 far more than The Marine) but Street Kings 2 failed when using that logic. I tried to use the “Ray Liotta is in it- that could be fun” logic; Should be noted that this logic also failed me.
The film is about a young Detroit City copy who kind of looks like a brunette Rick Astley who is investigating a group of cop killings with his assigned partner, an aging Detroit City cop. With no real leads to go on, the two pound the pavement trying to pick up leads. Within no time you have a tail of police corruption and dirty dealings cropping up around every corner.
I would consider it a spoiler to tell you that Ray Liotta is dirty, but Street Kings 2 hints at it from the very beginning and then exposes it within the first half hour. We as viewers then get to spend the rest of the movie watching brunette Rick Astley never give up (on the case) and never let (the other cops) down as he works to solve the case. Because the story spoiled this already apparent- but important- plot point that Liotta is dirty early on, you spend the entire movie asking what is the point? Ray Liotta is the star power in this film, and you know he is corrupt and you should hate him and the young cop (played by Shawn Hatosy) doesn’t have enough charisma for you to really care about him. The film continues to play out like a “what will happen once he finds out the truth?” sort of film, but the fact of the matter is you don’t really care.
Production value on the film isn’t too terribly bad for a direct to DVD sequel. In fact it looks pretty shiny and sleek and camera work isn’t all out terrible once you understand how vanilla of a film this truly is. At no point should we be giving out the academy award for directing and cinematography for Street Kings 2: Motor City, but hey I have certainly seen far worse from some A list directors. (Brett “Rush Hour” Ratner- I may be talking about you here) The point is, I could find plenty of reasons cinematically for knocking Street Kings 2: Motor City because of its lack of originality, but at the end of the day the directorial choice works for the story. Personally I would have liked to have seen a bit more of a gritty feel like Narc, or even some better hand held work like the work of Shawn Ryan and friends utilized on The Shield, but to each their own.
Where this film fails all around is the story. There really is no good arc. We assume based on the genre that someone is corrupt and then they announce it too early on during the film’s build to the climax. The writers assume we are going to care about the feelings of Shawn Hatosy’s character but he is so overshadowed by the acting prowess of Liotta that you just don’t care. Liotta is in his element in this film and plays his character well despite the bad writing and the mediocre dialogue but a good veteran actor can do that and Liotta seems to shine in these sort of films. I wanted a throwback to the performance he gave in Narc but we unfortunately never quite got to that level of Ray Liotta coolness.
If you think of movies as roller coasters, think of the original Street Kings as the most unfulfilling roller coaster you have have probably been on in a while. It had a few twists and turns and but was forgettable once off the ride. Street Kings 2: Motor City would be a roller coaster that made Street Kings a must see attraction. It’s like a roller coaster that is just one continuous flat,straight track that veers left for half a second and the continues a slow, straight flat track ride to the conclusion. A train traveling through the flat lands of Nebraska has more twists turns and excitement than Street Kings 2: Motor City. So if you are ever in a situation where you must chose watch Street Kings 2: Motor City or travel by car across the state of Nebraska, choose Nebraska. I can’t believe I am saying this but this is one scenario where Nebraska really doesn’t seem that bad.