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STUDIO: 20th Century Fox
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes
• Deleted Scenes
• Murder Scene Deconstructions
• Creating a Convincing Cop Story
• An Explosive Opening
• Motor City Setting
Ray Liotta! Cops! Drugs! Intrigue! SOLD!
Starring Ray Liotta, Shawn Hatosy, Clifton Powell, Charlotte Ross
Written by Ed Gonzalez and Jeremy Haft
Directed by Chris Fisher
When an undercover narcotics officer gets gunned down on the streets of Detroit, his former partner (Liotta) teams up with a reluctant detective (Hatosy) to investigate. As more cops meet their demise, the two investigators close in on the culprit who may be one of their own.
From the opening frames, you know what type of movie you’re going to get. It lives in that realm of gritty crime drama that involves that gray area between cop and crook but rarely sets foot into reality. You can’t aim for realism and then have some steroided out hoodlum dig his knife into a bag of cocaine, smash his whole face into the white powder taking in huge whiffs, then not even bothering to wipe it off his nose before declaring that, yes, indeed, this is some good shit. Yes, we can continue with this shady drug deal. It’s a scene straight out of the early-90s yet here it is, 2011, and we’re still watching this behavior pass off as how the drug trade still goes down. Naturally there’s a misunderstanding amongst the racist remarks and macho slang-talk between these clever entrepreneurs – someone’s apparently wearing a wire – and half the group ends up dead, except for Marty Kingston, played by none other than Mr. Ray Liotta. Off we go with Street Kings 2: Motor City.
Liotta can do this role in his sleep. It’s like a freeze-dried combination of his characters from Narc and Cop Land. It’s not a bad thing, but it sure ain’t showing us anything new. Then again, if you pick up a direct-to-DVD crime drama you probably aren’t looking for much originality, just something to divert your worries away from your everyday life for a couple hours. You have your tough female cop chief. You have a young buck detective Dan Sullivan (Hatosy) forced to work with Kingston despite his logical arguments against it. Ridiculous interrogation scenes where they do the whole good-cop bad-cop routine around town. And of course, Detroit cops drive around in brand-new Ford Mustangs even though the city has to be one of the poorest in the country. Definitely the usual. And if that’s your goal, you could do worse than Street Kings 2: Motor City. It’s shot nicely, much of it actually taking place in Detroit which is refreshing to see rather than Vancouver or LA filling in for the depressed former-metropolis.
Despite Liotta getting
top only billing (seriously, if you check out the iMDB page you have to click to see the full cast and crew to even find Hatosy’s name listed), this is actually Sullivan’s movie, not Kingston’s. In fact, while we think that the movie will be about the two cops investigating the death of one of Liotta’s former partners, we find out who’s behind the murder early on, leaving the rest of the film for us to just watch as Sullivan tries to catch up where we’re already at. Of course, this takes forever and there are definitely moments where – provided you care enough about the characters at this point which I can’t say I really did – you shake your head, wondering why they’re doing what they’re doing when you know that it’s only going to come back to royally bite them in the ass. Naturally Sullivan sticks close to the person he shouldn’t for much longer than you’d expect him to while simultaneously shunning help from the guy that he should be working with. And since we know who the killer is at the first act break, the suspense – or lack thereof – comes from how we watch Sullivan continue to interact with the killer throughout the film without his knowledge.And I’ll just say it now: it’s Ray Liotta. Like, I said, we find this out 30 minutes in so it’s not a major reveal. Had this come out in theaters, that info would be part of the TV trailer. So, the film ends up being about why he did it. It’s an interesting choice but I think it’s the smart one. Since Liotta is the main suspect off the bat, and if you’ve seen any movies like this, you’d immediately figure that he was involved, might as well just get it out of the way so we can focus on the investigation rather than wondering who of these random characters it’d end up being.
Naturally, as the plot plays out, the whole gray area continues to get muddled, making it easier to not think of Kingston as a bad guy so much and feeling that conflict within Sullivan as he realizes that it’s his own partner who’s behind the whole thing. Of course, that’s assuming that he doesn’t end up being one of Kingston’s victims as he nears the truth. There are some tense moments between Liotta and Hatosy as the plot thickens. It’s not the worst screenplay in the world and Hatosy is capable in this role as a young hotshot detective even if it feels a bit cable TV. (Without Liotta, it’d be a TNT flick. But one that you’d still watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon when all that’s on is NASCAR.) The main problem with the film is that it’s just not very memorable. The issues that it tackles have been done many times before and much more effectively. Cough-Training Day-cough. While this is a sequel (in name and themes only) to Street Kings, that’s not exactly strong pedigree for memorable filmmaking either. I’ve seen both films once and I can only vaguely recall a scene from that Keanu Reeves opus. I think he ended up being somewhat dirty but still on the right side of the law when it came down to it. And I suppose you could put Liotta’s Kingston just on the flip side of that, clearly ending up on the wrong side of the law even if he had empathetic reasons behind him. Sullivan just ends up being the guy in the wrong place at the wrong time, basically. Which, being a twentysomething in Detroit, he should’ve seen that coming.
Not too shabby considering there couldn’t have been much budget for this direct-to-video sequel. Nice production value by shooting in Detroit for much of the exteriors at least. Looks solid on a big TV. There are a few featurettes on the making of the film so if you’re into that stuff, you might want to check them out.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars