21 BRIDGES

Reviewed by GREG KING

Director: Brian Kirk

Stars: Chadwick Boseman, J K Simmons, Sienna Miller, Taylor Kitsch, Stephan James, Keith David, Alexander Siddiq, Louis Cancelmi.

Chadwick Boseman in 21 Bridges (2019)

Andre Davis (played by Chadwick Boseman from Black Panther, etc) is an intense and embattled New York detective who has been involved in several shootings that have been investigated by Internal Affairs. The son of a slain, decorated and respected policeman, Davis seems driven to avenge cop killings, even though he claims that each shooting he has been involved in was justified. His career is under some sort of a cloud when he is called in to investigate a bloody massacre during a robbery.

Two thugs Ray (Taylor Kitsch, from Battleship, etc) and Michael (Stephan James, from Race, etc) raid a swanky restaurant late in the evening to steal a stash of drugs. But they get more than they bargained for when they discover a haul of uncut cocaine worth millions. Then police turn up unexpectedly. There is a shootout that leaves several officers dead and the two criminals on the run.

Davis takes charge of the investigation. The local precinct commander McKenna (Oscar winner J K Simmons, from Whiplash, etc) is tough and determined to bring down the crooks no matter what it takes. He assigns detective Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) to accompany Davis.

Davis orders the police to lock down the city by shutting down all of Manhattan’s 17 bridges and four tunnels, thus isolating the city and hoping to give them an opportunity to catch the two crooks. But Davis is not sure how far he can trust his fellow officers as there seems to be another agenda at work here.

Davis has until 5am to find the two crooks before the FBI step in. The action takes place over the course of one night, giving its tight race against time plot a sense of urgency. Produced by the Russo brothers, who directed Avengers: Endgame, etc, this generic but gritty and pacy police thriller set in New York has the same dark and amoral  aesthetic as the police procedural films of Sidney Lumet and Michael Mann, and more recent violent action dramas like Triple 9 or Den Of Thieves. Written by Adam Mervis (The Philly Kid) and Matthew Michael Carnahan (World War Z, etc), the plot about a robbery gone wrong and corrupt cops is somewhat formulaic, but it delivers in terms of a high body count and plenty of well-staged action.

Irish filmmaker Brian Kirk is a veteran of television having directed episodes of series like Game Of Thrones, etc, and his direction is muscular and visceral, with lots of shootouts and chases. Although set in New York, 21 Bridges has actually been nicely shot on location in Philadelphia, but slick hand held camerawork from cinematographer Paul Cameron (Collateral, etc) gives the material a menacing quality, and captures the city’s familiar neon lit landscape.

Boseman has a strong and charismatic screen presence that is put to good use here. He brings a resolute and stoic quality to his performance as the driven Davis, a detective who seems to have an intuitive ability to interpret crime scenes. Simmons brings his usual gruff persona to a fairly clichéd role. Kitsch brings a manic quality to his role as the volatile Ray, a battle hardened former veteran.

Fast paced from start to finish 21 Bridges is an engaging and entertaining police thriller.

★★★

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