Effective and entertaining, 21 Bridges is an old-school police thriller, in the vein of the eighties classics. If you grew up watching those movies, you’ll be at familiar territory. If, however, this is all new, you will still enjoy following Chadwick Boseman as he’s trying to catch his guy. He’s the star of this movie although we shouldn’t forget to mention J.K. Simmons, Taylor Kitsch and Sienna Miller who were also great. Taylor was especially good as the twitchy and unsettling Ray. I recommend you check him out in True Detective and Lone Survivor.
Since most of the movie takes place during the night, it’s amazing just how cinematography was spot-on. The entire movie has that cool visual vibe, usually reserved for much bigger movies. When I say bigger movies, I mean blockbusters with a pretentious atmosphere that acting like they’re better than you. This is not such a movie. It feels familiar and cozy, like something you would catch one night late on tv when you couldn’t sleep. You start watching it and soon realize you’re going to finish it no matter what.
One of the things that made 21 Bridges so good is the fact that it unfolds almost in real-time. I just love these real-time flow movies as they add a healthy dose of suspense to the atmosphere. Plus you feel like you’re in the movie, figuring shit out alongside our protagonists. The story isn’t complicated and while there are a few twists and turns, you will feel them coming. This isn’t a bad thing as the movie is trying to keep you in that entertaining thriller mode. Granted, there are a couple of melodramatic scenes, but nothing that will make you wince.
Meet Andre Davis, a smart and dedicated NYPD officer usually working on cop-killer cases. His father, who was also a cop, was shot on duty when Andre was just 13. One faithful night he enters a crime scene after a brutal robbery in Manhattan thinking that this is going to be a case just like any other. However, when he sees the level of carnage and dead bodies, Andre starts thinking this might be one of those fucked up cases. Not to mention the fact that he feels that something is seriously off with the way the robbery unfolded…
With a runtime of just over ninety minutes, 21 Bridges is a suspenseful ride thru the cool Manhattan night air that will keep you engaged throughout. The action scenes are gripping and you’re never too far away from one. The opening shootout was really brutal and visceral, setting the mood for the rest of the movie. It really feels like a proper neo-noir thriller with only a couple of elements making seem closer to standard-issue ones.
I already mentioned that the story is heard a thousand times before but what felt new and exciting are the characters. They’re not awfully deep and but you know enough about them to form certain opinions. I especially liked the criminals the two robbers meet while trying to get away. Finally, if you’re looking for movies like 21 Bridges, I recommend you check out Black and Blue, End of Watch, Rampart, Dark Blue, No Rest for The Wicked and L.627.
Director: Brian Kirk
Writers: Adam Mervis, Matthew Michael Carnahan
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, J.K. Simmons, Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch, Keith David, Alexander Siddig, Louis Cancelmi
Fun Facts: The incoming phone call at 44 minutes in: 212) 187-1013. 212 is the NY area code. 187 is the police code for murder. 10-13 is the code for officer in need of assistance.