“We got twenty-one bridges in and out of Manhattan. Shut them down. Three rivers. Close them. Four tunnels. Block them. Stop every train and loop the subways. Then, we flood the island with blue.”
Chadwick Boseman looks to be trying to bring back the days of Dirty Harry in this film as a cop known to kill cop killers. 21 Bridges is an action-packed film where nothing is really what it seems. Also featuring Sienna Miller, Taylor Kitsch, J.K. Simmons, and Keith David, I have to admit that some of these cast members’ appearances were more like cameos, as the action primarily focused on Boseman as he attempted to hunt down his target by any means necessary. Sorry, I just always wanted to say that, but for the context of this movie it rings true, as from the quote above you can see the extent he was willing to go to.
Following the death of his father at the hands of three assailants, two of which he took to the grave with him, Andre Davis has dedicated his life to protecting and serving. As a NYPD detective, he has amassed a reputation from line of duty shootings (eight in his nine years on the force). This reputation prompts his superiors to enlist his help in solving a crime very personal to the boys in blue. During an attempted robbery, more than half a dozen cops fall victim to the robbers, who flee the scene with kilos of cocaine.
The assailants, two trained soldiers (Kitsch and If Beale Street Could Talk’s Stephan James) stumble onto the score of a lifetime, a stash house with more product than they could ever carry. Upon making their exit, they are set upon by the cops, and one thing leads to another. Now on the run and in a dire need to turn their score in to cash, these two killers find themselves in over their heads. Knowing that it is only a matter of time before the killers flee the city, Davis makes the boldest call of his career: a full police lockdown around the island of Manhattan.
The film wastes no time establishing Boseman’s character has a bona fide tough guy as we are introduced to him during an Internal Affairs interview following his most recent shooting. The manner in which Boseman conducts himself during this interview sets the tone for his character for the rest of the movie in my opinion. The key takeaway is that despite his reputation, he is not a hothead, and contrary to popular belief, he is not quick to pull a trigger. Granted he is called that very thing at one point in the movie, but as he said, “you better have diction calling him a trigger.” In fact, he is quite possibly the most levelheaded person of the cast and the first to realize that there is something else going on besides the cop massacre.
On the other side of the coin is James’ character, who embodies the definition of being in over his head. As far as he is concerned, this should have been an easy job. To his credit, despite being far out on a limb and having police literally breathing down his neck, he still is able to remain levelheaded enough to come up with a plan that conceivably could have worked if it had not been for the larger conspiracy at work. There is also a humanizing element to his character, as a member of the supporting cast said it best, “He could have been anything that he wanted to be, if he’d only been born somewhere else.” That assessment of the character emphasized that Boseman’s and James’ characters were both halves of the same coin, both determined by their circumstances. This made for a great dynamic during the characters’ interactions.
The film also hosts a bit of a Marvel reunion, as three members of the cast have past affiliation with the franchise. We all know the obvious one with Boseman, but Kitsch was also affiliated via his subpar portrayal of Gambit in Wolverine origin story, and who could forget Simmons appearance as JJ Jameson in the Maguire Spiderman, not to mention his recent reprisal in the latest Holland version (sorry if that is a spoiler alert, although I’m not that sorry, as you’ve had plenty of time to see the film). Back on the subject of this film, I will say that David’s appearance was unnecessary, as his role was damn near a non-speaking role; it just felt wasteful to put him in the film for such a minimal amount of time.
21 Bridges is a great movie to see this weekend, though its chances of winning the box office are basically nil given its competition. Though its chances are nonexistent, I still encourage you all go see the film, as you are guaranteed to enjoy it.