In 16 Blocks, Bruce Willis plays Jack Mosley, a NYPD detective who seems to be annoyed and tired of he job. He looks lethargic 90% of the time never wanting to really do his job. Jack is told that his boss wants him for another job; which is the last possible thing Jack wants right now. Jack has been told to transport a key witness 16 Blocks to a grand jury hearing. The witness must arrive in two hours before the grand jury’s term expires. The witness is Eddie Bunker (Mos Def), who seems to have more lines tha… probably all of his film’s combined as Eddie is constantly speaking his mind.
Luckily for Jack, the overall premise of the job seems rather easy. All he has to do is get in a car and drive a guy 16 Blocks. Not too difficult no. Well, this is a movie and nothing is ever easy. Poor old Jack can’t drive even 16 Blocks without a quick stop. This quick stop is at a liquor store. When Jack leaves the liquor store, he sees the wrong kind of guy, and proceeds to shoot this guy. We soon learn that Jack’s boss, Frank Nugent (David Morse) has two jobs, the first being Jack’s boss and the second being the linchpin of a ring of corruption and drug dealing within his department. Sounds like an honest cop right? For some reason, Eddie and Jack seem to connect. As Jack quickly learns from Frank, a lot of people don’t want Eddie to testify in Court a man named Jerry Shue will be going down on numerous charges. Just as Eddie is about to get shot in a plausible scenario Frank creates for Jack, Jack shoots a cop in the leg thus throwing himself on the same side of the law that Eddie is on. Now it’s up to Jack as he must evade the police and get Eddie to the courthouse.
Director Richard Donner, probably best known for the film Lethal Weapon, seems to definitely know what he is doing in this film. He successfully combines action, suspense and humor into an hour and forty minutes with skill. Actor Bruce Willis, despite showing his age, handles this role with ease. As I mentioned, Willis does show his age but still has what made him famous in films like Die Hard; his simple charm and smarts as an actor. Mos Def, who has way more lines than Willis, constantly speaks his mind pretty much for the entire film. The strongest actor in the film has to be David Morse, as he displays the typical evil and horror that a corrupt cop must display. Similar to Willis though, Morse does this with ease.
The film’s actual plot was going along just fine with successful scene after successful scene until around one hour and twenty minutes in where the plot tends to take a sudden twist. This doesn’t bring the whole film down in a ball of flames, but it certainly gives the film a rather sour taste. Despite the overall film containing a lot of fine action with suspense, the last few scenes really made the film go from a 4-4.5 film down to a 3 star film. It makes me wonder if Donner truly thought this scene made sense. Also, I wonder how the scene with the ambulance suddenly diverted into two separate scenes with two separate ambulances. That didn’t seem to make much sense.
In the end, 16 Blocks is not necessarily a horrible film, but it has all the ingredients in solid acting, fine direction and a few great action scenes that could have all been added together to make the film great. However, the final endings scenes, as I mentioned above, really hurt the film’s credibility for me. If you can ignore this part, you may enjoy 16 Blocks just as much as I did for a majority of the film.
16 Blocks is presented in anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 2:35:1. The print, again as expected from a newer film, looks just fine. Colors are spot on and are well defined. Sharpness from the print is great. Everything was crisp and easily helped the film’s setting, which was a very urban New York. The only real problem I add, which was noticeable in a few scenes, was a few small instances of grain in the scene where Jack and Frank are speaking near the elevator. Besides this, the transfer for 16 Blocks was sparkling.
The audio that is provided, the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 Audio Track, was good as well. Dynamics, most appearing from the rear like gunshots and some crashes, were strong and impressive. Dialogue, as usual, was spot on and clean while the overall music helped to represent the sometimes calm, sometimes upbeat theme of the whole film. The various city locales in and around the 16 blocks in New York assisted in the audio field as some locales actually improved the sound effects. Some audio tracks usually find themselves, in some crowded scenes, being overwhelmed with the on going scenery. Luckily for 16 Blocks, this never occurred. This was a solid effort on WB’s part.
- Alternate Ending: The alternate ending presented here can either be viewed by itself or incorporated back into the film. As for the ending itself, it just changes the ending by letting a bad guy redeem himself. If you want to find out why this ending wasn’t used, watch the ending by itself as Director Richard Donner and Writer Richard Wenk gives us a bit of insight as to why this ending wasn’t used.
- Deleted Scenes: Here we get eight different scenes that last around 20 minutes. The actual scenes just add a bit of footage to already existing scenes. Some scenes involve Eddie giving us even more insight into his life than we probably needed to know. Based on the few scenes, the cuts were very good as the deleted scenes were rather fluff based and didn’t really do much.
- Trailer: Here we get the film’s theatrical trailer.
Chalk 16 Blocks up in the column with many similar films that had a lot going for them but eventually didn’t succeed as the film should have. The film, as I mentioned above, was going fine until the ending. The DVD does boast great picture and audio, but barely any features. This adds up to a basic rental if you enjoy movies like this.
Special Features List
- Alternate Ending
- Deleted Scenes