Los Angeles crime novelist extraordinaire James Ellroy is credited as one of Street Kings’ three screenwriters, though that doesn’t prevent David Ayers’ second directorial outing from being a lousy mediocrity. Ayers’ latest is, after 2006’s Harsh Times, his second straight overwrought and unfulfilling tale concerning a loco white boy knee-deep in the City of Angels’ criminal scene, albeit the primary focus here isn’t the metropolis’ underbelly but its halls of law enforcement. Tom Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) is a surly, boozing Dirty Harry lapdog to Captain Wander (Forest Whitaker), who has Tom do his dirty work and then cleans up the resultant mess. When Tom’s former partner (Terry Crews), who’s supposedly working with Internal Affairs to send Tom up the river, is gunned down in a convenience store in front of the roughneck cop’s eyes, he ignores his captain’s warnings to let the affair go and commences an investigation into the slayings. Shit, meet fan, though the nastiness Tom discovers – corruption, deception, betrayal – is so dreadfully unsurprising that it’s easy to believe in Tom’s oft-remarked-upon blindness to what’s going on around him. Ayers has a thing for L.A.’s seedy side yet little to say about it save for the fact that it’s a modern Wild West, and in Reeves, his protagonist seems only half-conceived, convincingly wrought with guilt and regret but lacking credibility as a kill-‘em-all vigilante. Reeves’ robotic monotony brings some welcome stillness to the surrounding whirlwind of blustery machismo. Too bad, then, that Street Kings goes nowhere except into clichéd revelations and trite epiphanies, merely another example of its maker’s over-the-top infatuation with tough guys talkin’ smack from behind raised pistols.