Synopsis: Cop wants to shut down Manhattan’s bridges and tunnels to trap a couple of cop killers.
In case you didn’t know, in America, anytime there is a felony crime on an island, the entire island is shut down until the perpetrator is caught. For example, on Key West, Florida…if say, someone graffiti’d the Welcome to Key West sign to read ‘Welcome to New Havana’ with a spray painted pic of Fidel Castro using the sacred conch shell as a cigar ash tray…and the damage was estimated to be at least $1,000…the bridge off of the key would be closed. Another terrifying possibility would be closing all of the key bridges so that the miscreant couldn’t get to Miami and wreak graffiti havoc there. And then they could call the movie about it 42 Bridges.
21 Bridges, set in Manhattan, was originally titled 17 Bridges, but I guess that didn’t sound awesome enough so they added the four tunnels out of the city too. You might think that the bridges and tunnels will be an actual part of the action scenes. No. They just came up with a gimmicky title and attached a standard police chase story. That’s not to say that it’s not worth watching because A) there are plenty of cop movie clichés to laugh at and B) Chadwick Boseman is the movie’s star.
Chadwick Boseman is André, cop (and son of a cop) who does things his own way… and is also the best damn cop in the city. We meet him when he is being interviewed/scolded by Internal Affairs because he is always discharging his weapon in the line of duty. But he says he won’t apologize for doing his job. Those IA people! The rank and file coppers know that he’s one of the finest of the city’s finest.
When a botched robbery results in seven killed officers, André (let’s switch to ‘Chadwick’) is rushed to the scene of the crime. The cops who arrived after the robbers fled the scene are basically in shock. J.K. Simmons as Captain McKenna is mad as hell at whoever hit his guys. He rails against the assailants in a gruff generic outer-boroughs accent. Chadwick is composed AF and quickly gets to work, ascertaining that there were two gunmen, but only one who was shooting to kill. He also calculates how much cocaine was stolen and reconstructs the gunfighting chain-of-events. We know we are seeing someone with special skills. At once we can see that he feels no higher calling than protecting the public and serving with his brothers and sisters in Blue.
Talking with his superiors and the mayors’ representatives out on the street gives Chadwick the opportunity to deliver great lines like the following, “There are 21 bridges out of Manhattan —shut ’em down. Then we flood the island with Blue!” The mayors’ guys can’t believe the audacity of his pan, but they acquiesce and give him ’til 5 AM (less than four hours away) to catch the culprits.
We get to see cool aerial shots of the bridges and imagine them shutting down. We see a flurry of helicopters launched above the island. Now that does look kinda cool, but are they supposed to spot two guys running around Manhattan in the middle of the night from 10,000 feet?
Chadwick will quickly figure everything out, but we viewers get some inside information, because we have been following the criminals from the beginning. They are: Michael (Stephan James from If Beale Street Could Talk) and Ray (Taylor Kitsch of Friday Night Lights). With all of the racism in the world, it was nice to see a biracial partnership. Although it seemed to be a pretty toxic relationship because ‘Friday Night’ was always pumping people full of bullets, while ‘Beale Street’ urged moderation.
Not that he needs it, but Chadwick has some help on the case. He’s partnered with Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) who is a narcotics agent. The filmmakers work overtime dimming her beauty, she looks like she has been living on the street. The best part is her accent, a self-conscious working class New York accent with a 1970’s macho flair. Sienna, if you wanted to go believably overboard with a “New York City” accent, you should’ve spent time in Staten Island.
The two robbers get more desperate and violent as they make their way through the city. There will be many a shootout with jacked up audio for the artillery and histrionic action movie music played at a fever pitch if any of the characters so much as quicken their pace. Expect: some drug operative to be shot in the eye when he idiotically checks his door’s peep hole (here the makeup people get to show off their work while the crew takes a break from splashing blood all over the walls and floors); a slow game of cat and mouse on the subway; characters getting hit by a bus, after which they both stumble and then set off running again. Sure…
Frankly, my favorite part of the movie was the end, but not because Chadwick solved the crime –I knew he would– I was just relieved to see transportation into Manhattan resume for the bridge & tunnel crowd trying to get to work.
P.S. The movie filmed mostly in Philadelphia. Philly is for Rocky and The Sixth Sense: M. Night Shyamalan’s Only Good Movie. But Philadelphia standing in for New York? How. Dare. You.
PPS US laws do not require islands to shut down while tracking down felons. Movie Loon was just messing with you. Or as Sienna Miller might saying: Just goofin’ on youse guys.
Movie Loon’s Shortcut Movie Review:
Cut to the Chase: Fine for fans of cop movies
Humor Highlight: J.K.Simmons as a seasoned veteran cop