Irwin Winkler and 50 Cent are currently immersed in one of the strangest projects in cinema today: making terrible melodramas about the major traumas of the George W. Bush years. First, Winkler partnered with 50 for the hilariously overwrought, barely-released Iraq War movie Home Of The Brave. Now the terrible twosome has re-teamed for the almost inconceivably awful Katrina-sploitation thriller Streets Of Blood, which Irwin executive-produced for son/director Charles. A loathsome exercise in bad taste and shameless cliché-mongering, it’s set apart from the average Steven Seagal direct-to-DVD cheapie only by its setting: the muddy, bloody aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Can a histrionic exploration of 9/11 or the financial meltdown (possibly with 50 Cent as Bernie Madoff) be far behind?
50 Cent brings his marble-mouthed anti-charisma, wildly inexpressive face, and barely comprehensible line readings to the role of a Chicago cop who has the misfortune to be assigned to New Orleans just as it faces one of the worst natural disasters in U.S. history. He’s partnered with renegade maverick-cop cliché Val Kilmer, a lone wolf who plays by his own rules but gets results, dammit! 50 and Kilmer soon end up at the center of a turf war that pits an army of crudely stereotyped minority heavies, the FBI, and a deeply dirty police department against each other. Everyone in Streets is corrupt and compromised to some extent, but the result plays less like a bracing exploration of moral ambiguity than a sordid wallow in filth.
Sharon Stone wrestles unsuccessfully with the thick New Orleans accent of a road-show Tennessee Williams heroine, as a tough shrink who’s also, not coincidentally, the only woman in the movie who isn’t a bullet-riddled, dead, naked hooker. To call Streets a film about the aftermath of Katrina is to give it too much credit; it uses New Orleans’ rocky recovery solely as kitschy window-dressing for a sad stew of tired cop-movie conventions. Looking paunchy and leonine, with unflattering facial hair, Kilmer sinks to the level of the dire material, and ultimately, Streets recalls nothing so much as a lesser vehicle for Simpsons Arnold Schwarzenegger parody Rainer Wolfcastle, minus the satire and augmented with gratuitous T&A, nonstop profanity, and artless bloodshed.
Key features: None.