Saturday, March 7, 2020

Movie Reviews: 21 Bridges

21 Bridges
directed by Brian Kirk
This is a action/thriller that makes a few nods towards neo-noir. Ultimately it's a little hampered by not having a true femme fatale.

But the lead actor's slow burn intensity and leonine authority carries the movie over most of the rough spots. This wasn't a must see by any stretch of the imagination. It was quick moving and didn't overstay its ninety-nine minute run time. 

Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) is a NYPD homicide detective who is a little too good at his job. He has fired his gun quite a bit in the line of duty, killing about seven or eight armed criminals, some of whom had killed police officers. 

The NYPD Internal Affairs unit and psychiatrists think that Davis is bad for community relations and is over-compensating for the murder of his father, a uniformed NYPD officer who was gunned down when Davis had just entered his teen years. 

Davis doesn't think he's seeking revenge. He thinks he's doing things by the book. If someone commits murder, Davis is going to find them and bring them in for the court system to handle. 

If they attempt to commit violence against him, other cops, or civilians, Davis will put them in the ground, go home and sleep like a baby. No exceptions. Davis is a driven and moralistic man, something that makes other cops both admire him and be wary around him.

Ray Jackson (Taylor Kitsch) and Michael Trujillo (Stephan James) are two armed robbers/dope dealers who get a tip that there will be a small but quite profitable stash of high quality cocaine at a certain NYC location. 

But things go wrong in the heist. There is at least ten times the amount of cocaine present that the two men expected. And even stranger, a number of cops show up without sirens or lights, long before they could have known that a heist was in process. 

Well Jackson and Trujillo are former military men. Both are armed to the teeth; Jackson doesn't mind killing cops. At all. The police don't know what hit them. Before too long eight cops are dead or dying while Jackson and Trujillo skedaddle to find their contact and ask some pretty hard questions.

The precinct Captain Matt Mckenna (J.K. Simmons) is either forced to assign Davis to the case or calls Davis into the case. Over Davis' objections, McKenna also assigns one of his own narcotics detectives , Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) to the case. 

McKenna points out that Davis is known for killing cop-killers and that no one expects that Davis should bring these men in for arrest. 

After fighting with the deputy Mayor and the FBI, Davis is able to hold on to the case and take ownership. He convinces everyone to close down the titular 21 Bridges, tunnels and trains that connect Manhattan to everywhere else. The hunt is on. But Davis and the cop-killers are both noticing and wondering about some anomalies in the night's events. Trust becomes questionable.

I liked the examination of how authorities can use cell phones, traffic cameras, known associates, and other surveillance to rapidly identify the killers and track their location. I appreciated the depicted fury of cops eager to avenge the deaths of their colleagues.

Much of the film was shot at night, which adds to the otherworldly nature of some of the events. There are many questions about what is the morally right thing to do.

As mentioned, Boseman's Davis is a man who does not change in his views of right and wrong. This would have been a better movie if there had been some more difficult questions posed by a femme fatale that Davis had to answer. The movie moves very quickly. Boseman and Simmons are impressive in their roles but they needed someone else to step up.

Entertaining but not great.
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