21 BRIDGES gets 6.5/10 Shutdown in Manhattan

Directed by Brian Kirk

Starring Chadwick Boseman, Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch, Sienna Miller, J.K. Simmons


Cops chasing down criminals for a drug-related crime in New York – it’s not the most original idea for a film, but while 21 Bridges doesn’t offer much new for this formula, it makes the most out of its limited appeal to be an exciting and constantly engaging film that never hits either great heights or harrowing lows.

After a cocaine robbery goes wrong, its burglars Mike (Stephan James) and Ray (Taylor Kitsch) make a run for it with far more in their hands than they expected, and the NYPD is following closely behind them. Heading this investigation is Detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman), who puts into effect a number of immediate orders to ensure these thieves don’t manage to escape the city, which means closing off all of Manhattan’s 21 bridges.

And so the chase-down begins, with the robbers leading the cops through various districts. The tension is somewhat heightened because of how close Andre and his team are behind them (thanks to modern day surveillance), though also lowered due to a handful of cheap contrivances sprinkled through this story to keep it flowing.

A coda at the end of the film expands on the modern day living standards the downtrodden cops have in spite of the gruelling job they love, as explained in a great monologue from Captain McKenna (J.K. Simmons), giving this previously vacant film a bit more substance to chew on just before it comes to a close – this inner exposé of New York cops isn’t new in the gritty crime genre at all, but it’s eloquently and sharply presented here.

21 Bridges seems to be set apart from its contemporaries because it feels it was either made in the late 90s (for its stone-faced silliness) or the early 00s (for its new millennium pessimism). If it’s a tight action-thriller you’re seeking, 21 Bridges is an amiable and enjoyable watch for its focused manhunt on these experienced criminals. It has hardly enough originality or grit or stunning action material (and with only a small offering of social relevance at the end) to establish it as an important film in this genre, but as a genre film, it’s a worthwhile experience to generate some excitement.


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