It was “The New Centurions,” from 1972. I also watched an average one, the direct-to-DVD sequel “Street Kings 2: Motor City.”
Is it required you’ve seen the 2008 original starring Keanu Reeves? Not at all, since this is an in-name-only affair, sharing neither actors nor characters. “Street Kings 2″ even moves the setting from Los Angeles to Detroit. The only thing the films have in common is the theme of a cop having to go against his own.
Initially, the film focuses on Ray Liotta’s character of police Detective Marty Kingston (last name accidental? Doubt it!) who is investigating the string of murders of his fellow boys in blue — or plainclothes, as the case may be, given their undercover work in the Detroit drug trade.
But the second half shifts to Kingston’s new amigo, Detective Dan Sullivan (Shawn Hatosy, TV’s “Southland”), also digging his nose into the dirt. There’s a reason for that; I won’t reveal it, but it should be startlingly obvious … especially to anyone who’s seen more than one Liotta vehicle.
I’ve got nothing against DVD sequels; in fact, I eat ’em up, because they’re often quite enjoyable, even those with tenuous-at-best relationships to first chapters (a good example is the current “S.W.A.T.: Fire Fight”). “Motor City,” unfortunately, is a just-meh effort that runs on two flat tires.
Liotta is too good an actor to be wasting time in projects with only half a spark, no matter how meaty the role. Hatosy isn’t anywhere near his level, and that’s much of this sequel’s problem: He’s no fun to watch. The box copy pegs Hatosy’s character as “cocky,” and perhaps that adjective was in the script, but the actor plays him as sleepy and morose. By the time the inevitable happens to him in Act 3, viewers won’t feel sorry for his situation. You kinda root for Liotta, because he’s so magnetic.
Chris Fisher, no stranger to home-video sequels (“S. Darko”), squeezes every drop of the budget to make things look as slick as they can. That gets him to a CBS prime-time veneer. However, predictability is the fledgling feature director’s biggest enemy.
The Blu-ray contains more extras than many theatrical releases do these days, with brief dissections of three murder scenes, a couple minutes’ worth of deleted scenes and a few other short production segments. There’s even the film on its own DVD, too. —Rod Lott