Streets of Blood
One film genre that usually satisfies the audience is the crime thriller. It provides the vicarious thrills of living on the wrong side of the law with the assurance that in the end justice will prevail. Along the way there is typically plenty of action for the guys watching and enough potential for forbidden relationships that the women can get into. At least that is the way such a flick is expected to go. The unfortunately all too often these admirable objectives are not achieved in practice. One example of a flick that fell short of its potential is ‘Streets of Blood’ by Charles Winkler. I can understand just how this film received the funding and green light for production. It presented a well known cast of proven actors; a script that utilizes contemporary situations and some ‘ripped from the headlines’ plot devices and by releasing it direct to DVD took the usual theatrical release pressure off the production. This is a lot going for a smaller flick like this but in the final analysis all the positive aspects could not overcome the difficulty it had making everything gel together. The most disappointing thing about this movie is the potential it had. It very well could have been a contender at least among the direct to home video market. Both the limited theatrical rub and the video release are handled by Anchor Bay. One of the things I admire about them as a film distributor is they are always willing to take a chance with an independent film. This naturally means many of the films are experimental in nature and some are bound to fail. In cases like this movie the writer and director are both in the process of honing their respective crafts. They only way such talents can be properly developed are to give it a try. While this particular flick falls short there is talent present and hopefully future projects will reflect lessons learned here.
The script for the flick was done by Eugene Hess and Paul Lawrence. Both men have only a couple of previous screenplays including a prior collaboration on ‘Cruel World’ a comedy slasher flick. This movie represents a completely new direction for this writing team. They appear to have been in over their heads with the degree of difficulty involved with this story. There is the typical police corruption and shadowy crime figures that create an atmosphere of complete moral ambiguity. This is assisted greatly by the setting; post Katrina New Orleans. That city has a long tradition as the setting for the dirty cop drama but the inclusion of the devastation from the hurricane only serves to muddle the story more than necessary. One aspect that shows considerable promise with this writing team is with the dialogue. Movies of this caliber usually manager to offer an endless stream of clichés spouted by cardboard cutout characters. While some additional attention could have been given to fleshing out the characters the lines they got were for the most part quick with an inherent power allowing for some better than usual performances. Some of the scenes create a level of tension that is palpable helping to keep the film from tanking. It is unfortunate that this pace and tension could not be extended to more of the production.
After the devastation of hurricane Katrina the proud city of New Orleans is still in a shambles. Crime is higher than usual much to the chagrin of veteran detective Andy Devereaux (Val Kilmer) and his new rookie partner Stan Green (Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson) Andy is under suspicion of being corrupt mostly by officers that are actually on the take. With so much relief money around it is relatively for officers so incline to greatly pad their usual income. Andy is under almost constant scrutiny by a departmentalpsychologist Nina Ferraro (Sharon Stone). Adding to the consternation of Andy and his partner is the probe mounted by FBI agent Brown (Michael Biehn). The film lacks a strong enough central narrative that is required to hold the plethora of plot devices together, it fluxgates between ‘cops resisting the pressure to good bad and the post disaster breakdown of the justice system leading to some good old fashion vigilantism. Now one their own both are well used and workable story lines but the authors need more time on the learning curve to master blending themes effectively.
Also new to film making is director Charles Winkler. Most of his previous experience has been with premium cable series like ‘Jeremiah ‘and ‘Beggars and Choosers’. He also helmed the flick ‘Net 2.0’ in his film Winkler gives into the regrettable current trend involving a hyperkinetic camera; it is done practically to the point of vertigo. Instead of providing the desired effect of keeping the action moving and the audience off balance it is just a distraction. The film could possibly make it as a popcorn flick but mostly it is a learning experience for the film makers.