Street Kings doesn't get a lot of love from critics, who say it resorts at times to the worst of cop-flick cliches. Keanu Reeves plays a cold-hearted, vodka-swigging LA vice cop who's hunting down his former partner's murderers. And while screenwriter James Ellroy's pulp machismo has worked before, here Reeves comes off "like the host of an infomercial trying to do the impersonation of a badass," writes Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly.
Street Kings is a tired reiteration of a familiar morality tale—"the one righteous dude who gets his hands dirty operating outside of the law," writes Tim Grierson of the Village Voice. But then again, the LA underworld provides some "bigger than big emotions," according to the New York Times' Manohla Dargis. "It keeps you watching, really watching, all the way to the end."