“21 Bridges” is so predictable in terms of story and characters that I could see its every move and turn in advance as your average seasoned moviegoer. For example, we have a cop hero with some dubious background, and then we get an urgent chase across New York City within limited time, and then we are served with one of the most familiar elements from its genre later in the story. All these and other things are presented with no particular surprise or shock for us, but they are skillfully packed with thrill and excitement at least, and I appreciate that despite its many clichéd aspects.
Chadwick Boseman, who has been more prominent thanks to his solid work in “Black Panther” (2018), plays Andre Davis, a young New York Police Department (NYPD) detective who has been recently investigated by the Internal Affairs for his rather alarming record of shooting incidents. While the investigators regard him as a sort of the African American version of Dirty Harry, Davis calmly states that he has simply done whatever is necessary in his viewpoint, and nobody can criticize him easily because, well, all of his shooting incidents are justifiable on the surface as far as they can see. Sure, he may have been still angry and bitter about how his police officer father was killed a long time ago, but he did not seem to break any rule during these shooting incidents of his, and he has no qualms about them while quite willing to explain every shot ever fired by him.
Not long after his another hard time with the Internal Affairs is over, Davis finds himself assigned to a sudden case of robbery which is quite devastating to say the least. At that night, a couple of masked and heavily armed robbers break into a posh wine shop in one neighborhood area of Brooklyn, and they attempt to rob a considerable amount of cocaine stored inside the wine shop, but, unfortunately, things go quite wrong for them in more than one ways. While they come to realize that their target is far bigger than they ever imagined, they also encounter a bunch of local police officers who happen to be around there, and that eventually leads to the death of not only these police officers but also several other police officers who quickly arrive there once the shooting begins.
Although these two robbers manage to get away from their crime scene, it does not take much time for Davis to discern how they will attempt to hide for a while and then escape from the city. He predicts that they will run away to Manhattan because there is not any other option in the city for them, so he instantly insists that all the transport lines connected with Manhattan including those 21 bridges should be shut down for cornering these two robbers more, and we soon see Manhattan isolated from the outside step by step as instructed by him. This drastic measure surely causes considerable inconvenience in the city, but it is fortunately past midnight, so Davis and his colleagues can get things under their control more easily, though only a few hours are given to them.
Meanwhile, the movie pays some attention to the two robbers, who keep trying to find any possible way out. While they luckily get a chance to deal with someone who can buy their loot and then give them enough money for their escape, it gradually turns out that they are in a situation way over their heads, and the circumstance becomes a lot more desperate when something quite unexpected happens to them later in the story.
Around that narrative point, most of you have probably had a pretty good idea about what is exactly going on, and I assure you that the screenplay by Adam Mervis and Matthew Carnahan will not surprise you much. As chasing the two robbers more and more, our detective hero gradually comes to sense that something is not so right about his case, and he certainly becomes quite determined to get to the bottom of his case, but not many of his colleagues are that cooperative to him because, well, most of them are pretty pissed about these two robbers.
As Davis continues to chase after his suspects, the movie provides us a couple of competent action sequences. While the one unfolded within a meat processing plant is taut and tense to say the least, the other one busily hopping from one place to another is impressive for its propulsive forward rhythm, and director Brian Kirk did a good job of maintaining the narrative pacing of his film before it eventually arrives at the expected ending, which feels a bit too long in my trivial opinion.
The main cast members of the film are well-cast, though they are mostly required to fill their functional roles as much as they can. While Boseman, who also participated in the production of the movie, diligently functions as the center of the film, Stephen James and Taylor Kitsch make their criminal characters a little more sympathetic than expected, but I was disappointed to see that the other notable performers in the film including J.K. Simmons, Sienna Miller, Alexander Siddig, and Keith David are rather under-utilized in their generic roles.
Overall, “21 Bridges” does not distinguish much from other similar genre films, and it does not utilize its supposedly suspenseful premise enough, but I was not that bored at least while occasionally amused by its numerous clichés including a fruit cart and the law of economy of characters. I cannot recommend it for now, but, what the hell, I have a more enjoyable time than expected while writing this review, so you may give it a chance if you happen to have some free time to kill.