There’s something that’s too big about Streets of Blood for its own good, like a top heavy building whose foundation can’t support the weight. You keep rooting for it to get up on its feet, but it never manages, instead wallowing in cop movie clichÃ©s.
The story concerns Det. Val Kilmer (no point remembering the character’s names – these actors are playing themselves), a dirty-ish cop in post-Katrina New Orleans. He’s being grilled by Dr. Sharon Stone, who is giving Det. Kilmer a psyche review after a shooting during Katrina. They talk in her office, in a cafÃ©, at a bar (Stone rarely stands) and she does her best to get down to Kilmer’s soul, saying movie things like “I’m tryin’ to fig-yah out why you push yo’self to the edge.” She’s also working on Det. 50 Cent and two other rogue cops, Pepe (Jose Pablo Cantillo) and Barney (Brian Presley), in interview scenes that last long and go nowhere.
Det. Kilmer meets Det. 50 Cent during a Katrina flashback just moments after Kilmer finds his partner dead of a gunshot wound and floating in the floodwaters. He has as little reaction to this as when, moments later, he helps Det. Cent gun down a rooftop sniper. Before their shells have even hit the water, they’re already glad-handing and introducing themselves. If it was a Nora Ephron movie, this would be the meet cute.
These four cops are fighting a rising tide of gang warfare in a city that has basically become the wild-west. Every cop is corrupt, but it’s all by degrees. Kilmer lies and kills to put people away and Cent goes along with him. Pepe and Barney do it for the money. Soon enough, they get caught up in a corruption investigation run by the FBI.
This leads to even more interviews, as FBI agent Michael Biehn sits the four cops down and runs through the whole case, revealing that there’s a snitch among them. This leads to a few more twists and turns that don’t have much impact, but at least keep with the central theme of corruption and betrayal.
The production value is fairly low for a cast like this. Action scenes are blocked with little attention to flow – like an old Western, stunt people wait to be blown off of scaffolding or pushed through a window. There’s even less life to the dialogue scenes, which tend toward straight-forward exposition. With a no-name cast, all of this might have seemed a little scrappier. It might have come off more as the gritty true-to-life cop drama the camera work is going for. But as it is, it comes off as a rush job.
The only thing here that doesn’t seem done to death is the setting, with New Orleans providing a believable atmosphere of lawlessness. Setting up a gang headquarters in a FEMA trailer yard borders on genius. Still, admirable though it is to create a production specifically set in New Orleans in order to go spend tall production dollars there, it doesn’t justify this kind of work.
The film is presented in anamorphic 1.78:1 and is a streaky, muddy mess. Shot in HD and handheld like all cop dramas are supposed to be, even when it doesn’t add anything to the proceedings. The audio is Dolby Surround 5.1 and is equally muddy, creating no atmosphere, with dynamics all over the board.
Trailer – (2:04)
Streets of Blood is a rushed, amateurish mess with plenty of talent going to waste.
Millenium Films presents Streets of Blood. Directed by: Charles Winkler. Starring: Val Kilmer, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Sharon Stone, Michael Biehn. Written by: Eugene Hess. Running time: 95min. Rating: R. Released on DVD: July 28, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
Tags: Michael Biehn, Sharon Stone, Val Kilmer