Chadwick Boseman shuts down Manhattan to pursue cop killers in the action-packed 21 Bridges. Should you add it be on your Thanksgiving watch list?
Chadwick Boseman has been a busy man. Besides his role as Black Panther in the MCU, Boseman is known for his many biopic portrayals. Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, James Brown, Boseman has carved out a niche but he has also remained versatile. Though the movie Message from the King wasn’t a critical success, Boseman showed that he could carry an action movie without the comic backing. Enter 21 Bridges.
While the trailer seemed somewhat interesting, 21 Bridges sells itself as a standard dirty cop thriller. Boseman plays a detective whose reputation precedes him. Then, if that wasn’t enough, we’re given the added trope of him being the son of a cop who died in the line of duty. When a heist goes wrong and numerous cops are murdered, who better to bring in than him? The trailer also tells us that this was not a normal heist though and that’s where the dirty cop angle is introduced.
My expectations were modest going in. I didn’t expect anything in the story to surprise me since we’re given so much, but I was hoping for some strong action pieces and some Chadwick one-liners. We get that and a little bit more, and there were definitely some surprises.
Admitting to not doing your homework isn’t something most do but I will here. Besides Boseman and Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk) I didn’t pay attention to much of the cast. 21 Bridges has a star-studded one however featuring Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) and Golden Globe winner Sienna Miller (GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra). Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) has always been a favorite of mine as well so I definitely welcomed his presence.
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Miller plays a narcotics detective named Burns who is assigned to partner with Boseman’s Detective Davis when they discover there were cops killed and drugs stolen. Her character doesn’t defer to Boseman though he’s supposed to be the lead and she carries her weight as his equal on-screen. J.K. Simmons has some strong scenes throughout the movie and his talent was not wasted. Kitsch’s action scenes were great and immediately get your heart rate up.
Everyone pulls their weight and the sum of the parts makes 21 Bridges feel whole. No wasted time, no wasted actors, and nothing overdone (besides perhaps the time spent on Detective Davis’ background.)
21 Bridges gives away that there’s something that’s not right about the heist in the trailer. I do believe that the trailer gives away a lot of the story but it saved enough to keep it interesting. While we know going in that the heist will go poorly and our thieves will be running from Chadwick and that Chadwick is trying to figure out what is really going on, we aren’t given the details.
In this case, the details are what make the movie and the added information about Detective Davis’ past almost feels like it was intentionally misleading. The movie starts with a flashback to Davis’ father’s funeral and then jumps to him talking to Internal Affairs about shooting a suspect. I guess they wanted us to see him as a trigger-happy cop but if that was the case, why give away in the trailer that he is going to give the suspect a chance to talk?
I do feel this takes something away from the experience. They probably should have shown him shooting a suspect in the movie because I never questioned his professionalism at any point like they seemed to want me to. The only mystery is whether or not the shooters are going to escape, how, and who was behind the setup.
Is there a message?
Not really. While the recently released Black and Blue tries to send a message about cops and the community needing to bridge the gap, there is none of that in 21 Bridges. There is a point made about how little cops are paid and how the economic stress and the stress of the job affect their home lives. However, it’s a statement that isn’t easy to sympathize with at the point in which we receive it.
21 Bridges is not going to blow you away but I did have some key takeaways that may affect your willingness to watch. In the trailer, Boseman’s accent or the delivery of his lines feel forced. In the movie they felt a lot more natural. Also, the heist and chase are not the whole movie. There are other things that end up happening that tell a larger story.
Lastly, the action scenes are great. Some may be a bit hard to take early on but they’re meant to be. Besides one scene where people suddenly couldn’t aim and hit a sitting duck target, the shootouts and chases were strong. Taylor Kitsch’s character in particular brought it on the action front.
Oh, and the bridges don’t actually end up being that vital to the story. I don’t want any bridge enthusiasts to be disappointed.
If you are on the fence about seeing 21 Bridges give it a shot. It is currently available nationwide.