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’21 Bridges’ (review)

Produced by Anthony Russo, Joe Russo,
Mike Larocca, Gigi Pritzker,
Chadwick Boseman, Logan Coles
Screenplay by Adam Mervis
and Matthew Michael Carnahan

Story by Adam Mervis
Directed by Brian Kirk
Starring Chadwick Boseman,
Sienna Miller, Stephan James,
Keith David, Taylor Kitsch,
J. K. Simmons, Alexander Siddig

 

Can Chadwick Boseman carry an action movie when he’s not playing Black Panther?

Absolutely.

Is 21 Bridges as great as Black Panther?

Well, no, but it’s a solid cop thriller along the lines of One Good Cop Against the System movies like The Negotiator or 16 Blocks.

Does NYC really have 21 bridges? Can they realistically be shut down in one night (as well as the tunnels, waterways, bus stations, etc?) Technicalities!

And if you’re going to be bothered that Boseman’s savvy cop is a) always right and b) bullet-proof, then you’ve probably never sat through a season of 24. His cop character Andre Davis isn’t as impressively indefatigable as Jack Bauer, but he gets the job done, and so does the movie.

21 Bridges (the first feature film from Game of Thrones director Brian Kirk) delivers fast-paced action, shoot-ups galore, and Boseman sharing scenes with Oscar winner J.K. Simmons and If Beale Street Could Talk‘s Stephan James. All in a brisk 100 minutes.

The film starts with the funeral of young Andre’s father, a heroic police officer slain in the line of duty. Andre grows up to be an impressive policeman in his own right, if one with a reputation for being trigger-happy. We first meet adult Andre at an Internal Affairs meeting where his frequent shootings – which have all been cleared and signed off on – are being called into question.

That same night, a drug heist by two low-level criminals – Michael Trujillo (James) and Ray Jackson (Taylor Kitsch) – goes horribly wrong, and eight cops are slain. Kitsch’s character, a bitter, violent Army vet, is almost a repeat of his villain in American Assassin. James, who was so good in If Beale Street Could Talk and Race, is the more sympathetic of the two gunmen, making the all-out manhunt against them more tense because we actually care if he lives or dies.

Everyone on the force wants Andre to solve this thing quickly, and by “solve,” they mean make sure the shooters never make it out alive. Andre is paired with narcotics cop Frankie Burns (a surprisingly tough Sienna Miler) and, although they’ve just met, they’ve got to work together if they both want to stay alive, a standard genre set-up that works fine here.

As the night unfolds, Andre begins to suspect there’s a lot more to this heist – and that one or all of the cops he’s working with might be corrupt.

Could it be Frankie, his makeshift new partner?

The Captain who just lost all those officers (Simmons)?

The imposing Deputy Police Chief (Keith David)?

The predictably jerky FBI agents who reluctantly let Andre call the shots?

It’s a tried and true formula, but if you want to see Boseman as a cop with the authority to shut down all of Manhattan and root out system-wide corruption – all while looking sharp as hell – then go see 21 Bridges.

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

 

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