Jacob Richardson | 25/11/2019
There’s no surprises here, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any enjoyment.
Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) has history with the NYPD; his dad was a hero, until he was beaten to death by a perp. Now a successful detective in his own right, Andre stumbles across a vicious crime scene - a number of dead cops in a botched cocaine heist. Now he finds himself on the hunt for two armed assailants, trapped in Manhattan by the closure of the 21 bridges out of town. But he only has until dawn to catch these two, no matter what sort of conspiracies may be present under their actions, for if he doesn’t you can expect the criminals to flee the city and country.
Directed by Brian Kirk, 21 Bridges is not a film that will leave you guessing. It is paint by numbers crime / cop thriller if ever there was one. That doesn’t just extend to the plot, whose twists and turns are so mild as to be deadening, but also to the dialogue and character development. Some lines (like the one in which this title is referenced, or the myriad of ‘rapid fire’ dialogue choices that consistently grate).
That being said, 21 Bridges is still a lot of fun. Chadwick Boseman is particularly good as the young trigger happy, yet morally sound cop. Kirk gives Boseman plenty of opportunities to shine as an action star, including a myriad of exciting gun battles. Kirk branches this action out even more when looking at gun battles with the two antagonists, Michael (Stephan James) and Ray (Taylor Kitsch). In particular, the opening battle in the wine store and the gunfight in the launderer’s apartment are particularly electric.
J.K. Simmons and Sienna Miller also do good work with underwritten parts. Visually, the film is a gloriously gritty yet neon-lit adventure that brings a level of realism to a wildly unlikely tale. Yet despite the action, the performance, and the visual aesthetic all being on point, one can’t help but feel 21 Bridges is just too safe, too standard to be a must-see for movie-going audiences.
A safe, paint by numbers action/thriller that gets a pass because of its superb cast, action direction and visual aesthete.