Crime thrillers centered on cops in pursuit of hardened felons through the seedy underbellies of a bustling city aren't new to Hollywood. They've existed since the first studio in Hollywood was built, and they'll continue being made till the last theater in the world stands. Neither are events unfolding over the course of a night entirely novel, with such classics as Sidney Poitier's In the Heat of the Night and Tom Cruise's Collateral coming to mind. And while a city being placed under lockdown isn't something we usually get to see on film, it has being done on rare occasions like in Director John Carpenter's action masterpiece, Escape from New York, starring Kurt Russell and in another masterpiece, filmmaker Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises, starring Christian Bale. The trick is always to revisit such themes with a fresh plot, smart direction, and plenty of innovation. Does 21 Bridges succeed in doing so? Let's find out...
What's it about
21 Bridges revolves around NYPD detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) and his partner Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) from the narcotics division, who are in a race against time to nab two cop killers, Ray Jackson (Taylor Kitsch) and Michael Trujillo (Stephan James) after a drug deal goes horribly wrong. With time running out and the identity of the killers initially remaining anonymous, the entire island of Manhattan is placed under lockdown to facilitate a better scope for tracking them down. However, brining Jackson and Trujillo in is only the tip of the iceberg as a can of worms is opened through the course of the night, with the plot intending for both Davis and the audience to question who's good, who's bad, and what really transpired behind the scenes, which led to a bunch of cops being massacred.
(Also Watch: Sienna Miller and Taylor Kitsch open up on Black Panther and New York being shut down)
First and foremost, Brian Kirk, who debuts as a feature-film Director, having Helen's several episodes of popular TV shows such as Dexter, Luther, Boardwalk Empire, and Game of Thrones, displays his guile in staging gritty, well-detailed action scenes, whether they involve shootouts or chase sequences. Two such scenes — one at the beginning involving the drug deal and the other post the halfway mark, featuring a high-stakes chase, keep you on the edge of your seat. Chadwick Boseman, in his first leading role after three back-to-back Marvel movies, does his best to make viewers sit up and take notice that he's so much more than just Black Panther. (Those who've seen his pre-Black Panther outings like 42 and Marshall would already know this, but we get it: Not everyone has.) Boseman pours every ounce of his acting mettle into his role, and it's just about enough to mitigate the film's clumsier portions. The players around him from Sienna Miller and J.K. Simmons to Taylor Kitsch and Stephan James lend able support. The film has also been well shot — Paul Cameron's camerawork does justice to the more unsavoury parts of Manhattan — and at just 100 minutes, it also boasts some shrewd editing by Tim Murrell.
As good as Kirk's direction and Boseman's performance are, they're let down quite a big by Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael Carnahan's screenplay, which, though beginning on a good note, delves into predictable territory, filled with several cliches about movie cops and criminals. After a certain point, the big reveal serves as nothing more than a formality as anyone with half a brain would be able to join the pieces long before it's disclosed. The predictability of it all could've been shrouded to an extent with a better climax. Alas, it almost seems that the team ran out of ideas and decided to quickly finish the movie. A more thumping background score, given the theme of the film, also wouldn't have hurt.
(Also Watch: Chadwick Boseman opens up on good cops vs bad cops)
While you won't be left glued to the screen or even remember several moments of the film once the credits roll, 21 Bridges is good enough to enjoy 100 or so entertaining minutes and offers leading man Chadwick Boseman a launch pad to explore greener pastures beyond the MCU. I'm going with 3 stars.
Rating : 3 out of 5
Stay tuned to BollywoodLife for the latest scoops and updates from Bollywood, Hollywood, South, TV and Web-Series.
Click to join us on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram. Also follow us on Facebook Messenger for latest updates.