’21 Bridges:’ A bridge too far-fetched
It’s just another night in New York City – or so it would seem – when a pair of heavily-armed thieves (Stephan James and Taylor Kitsch) stroll into a Brooklyn restaurant to steal 30 kilos of uncut cocaine.
Imagine their surprise when they discover 300 kilos instead, followed moments later by the coincidental – or so it would seem – arrival of four officers from the 85th Precinct. What follows, as you might expect, is a violent bloodbath that leaves eight officers shot and the culprits at large, still armed and toting 50 kilos of that cocaine.
Thus begins 21 Bridges, an atmospheric shoot-’em-up that delivers the action goods but skimps on character and credibility. The film, directed by veteran small-screen helmer Brian Kirk (Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful), bears some thematic resemblance to the recent Black and Blue, but this film has none of that film’s racial subtext or moral irony, blunt as they were. This is a more straightforward and, ultimately, more predictable police procedural.
Chadwick Boseman, bringing gravitas to the proceedings, plays Andre Davis, a hard-boiled detective placed in charge of the case. We know Andre’s a good guy because his cop father was murdered in the line of duty years before, and he lives with his ailing mother (Adriane Lenox). That Boseman is one of the film’s producers might also have something to do with it because 21 Bridges is a star turn through and through, not that he disappoints in that capacity.
The 85th Precinct’s Captain McKenna (J.K. Simmons) would like nothing more than to close this case as quickly and lethally as possible, all the better to spare the widows and orphans – and the precinct and the city – from further grief. It’s that last part that pretty much tips this narrative’s mitt.
Davis orders a city-wide lockdown, shutting down all access in and out of the city, but his suspicions are soon aroused by how quickly his fellow officers tend to come across the culprits, often with guns blazing, even though he’s supposedly in charge.
Even Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller, sporting an acceptable New York accent), the narcotics detective paired with Davis, has a tendency to take emergency phone calls, ostensibly from her ill daughter. Something’s rotten in the Big Apple – right down to the core. The bad guys may be bad, but the cops are clearly worse.
The screenplay, by Adam Mervis (who also penned the story) and Matthew Michael Carnahan, is familiar throughout, offering few surprises. It’s nice to have Simmons, Alexander Siddig, and reliable Keith Davis on hand, but that’s all they are – on hand.
One of the more interesting facets about Boseman’s Davis is that he uses his smarts to crack the case – even if the audience is already ahead of him — but in the end falls back on the old stereotypical “supercop” persona, blasting the bad guys away. Everything’s wrapped up neat and tidy and bloody.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2019, Mark Burger.