Review by Camden Ferrell
Starring Marvel star, Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), 21 Bridges is a police thriller directed by Brian Kirk. It has a fairly standard plot, and it may stumble on its own narrative leaps, but this movie is still a really energetic and enjoyable film.
This film follows NYPD detective Andre Davis as he hunts for criminals who killed eight police officers. In order to do this, Davis shuts down Manhattan island and closes it off while he embarks on a race against the clock to find the wanted men. This premise isn’t anything original at all. It may take the standard crime drama to relatively new heights, but it feels very familiar for the most part.
The writing isn’t especially strong in this film, but it’s clear that wasn’t the point of the film. It’s full of cliché and tired dialogue, but thankfully this is overcome by the other elements of the scene. The film may come off as implausible, and it does seem very unrealistic at times, but the movie wasn’t trying to go for realism at all. The story itself is straightforward, and even though it has its twists and surprises, it is all mostly foreseeable. However, this doesn’t noticeably hinder the experience of watching the scene.
Boseman leads this film, and he does an adequate job for what it’s worth. It’s nothing groundbreaking or particularly special, but it’s just enough to carry the film through its runtime. Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk) plays one of the wanted criminals in the film, and he gives a surprisingly good performance. His character isn’t well-developed, and he doesn’t have any standout moments in the first half, but James has some truly amazing scenes in the latter half of the film. His dynamic with the rest of the cast is fantastic, and he instills a lot of life into the film.
What the movie lacked in complexity, it more than made up for with its execution. The blocking of the scenes was fairly apt, and it generated suspense like it was supposed to. This is one of those movies with constant action and kinetic energy, and that makes it such an easy film to breeze through and enjoy. It’s a well-paced movie that doesn’t feel overlong until its final act.
However, the denouement of this film really minimizes what worked so well before it. The movie goes for a cliché twist that comes off as derivative and boring. It isn’t surprising, and it doesn’t give the film as much narrative depth as it thought. It may make some thematic sense, but it really bogged down an otherwise fast-paced film.
This movie also features many themes that are important today. It tackles themes of morality, corruption, economic struggles, and compassion. It isn’t revolutionary or particularly loud with what it says, but it is still there. It is mostly muddled by the constant action and shootouts on screen, but the attempt is present.
21 Bridges makes for an exciting time at the theaters this weekend. In a weekend with Frozen II and A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, this movie should be able to provide some R-rated thrills for an adult audience.
21 Bridges is in theaters November 22nd.