Review: 21 Bridges

Directed by Brian Kirk and written by Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael Carnahan, an embattled NYPD detective is thrust into a citywide manhunt for a pair of cop killers, after uncovering a massive and unexpected conspiracy. Starring: Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, J.K. Simmons, Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch, Keith David and Alexander Siddig.

Cop dramas are typically problematic these days, they tend to be filled with cliched dialogue and predictable plots, so leading your film with Chadwick Boseman gave a sense of hope in a boring landscape but sadly, that was not to be fulfilled. Boseman has worked hard to make his way into the mainstream and while that journey was filled with great roles like Jackie Robinson and James Brown, he now seems to be headed in the wrong direction as this role is sincerely below his talent. While his performance is not an issue and he’s plenty convincing, in the end it doesn’t really matter because no matter how good his performance is, he can’t save the film from its stereotypes. The frustrating issue is that the film puts together a cast of good actors but the lacklustre script does exactly the same thing as with its lead, their skills can’t push to anything sincerely interesting because they’re entirely restricted by the film’s shortcomings. Perhaps the only let down with the casting is Taylor Kitsch, Friday Night Lights let him get his foot in the door but he’s done no work since that proves he deserves his place in Hollywood, he’s not a particularly strong actor and has a history of being in flops, he could have easily been replaced with a better pairing for Stephan James.

There are issues left and right with the script, larger problems like the tedious dialogue and smaller issues like oversights due to focusing on what they want rather than realism, such as Boseman’s Andre walking onto a crime scene and being treating as if he has authority over his senior officers. It’s the type of writing where it feels like they’re swinging at catchphrases rather than attempting to put together a coherent plot. The characters are simply uninspiring, they take the classic archetypes of previous films and add nothing to separate them from the crowd. All of which is topped by a score that plays out more like it’s set in Gotham rather than New York, pushing for a cheap super hero fighting the villain atmosphere, which is ill suited.

Its problems even extend to the physical effects, no-one ever changes a magazine of their weapon despite shooting countless rounds, like stormtroopers they all consistently miss the target until the lead gets a shot in. There’s no consideration for reality, characters get hit by vehicles and have no injuries, they randomly add in a parkour style chase sequence, they move cash from easy to carry duffel bags to overstuffed tote bags, as if that’s not a massive giveaway of their contents. It’s simply lazy, cheap storytelling, if there were a decent plot to back all of it up, it might still have a shot at working but there isn’t, it’s one-note and leaves too many factors unanswered because they assume the audience won’t think further than what’s in front of them. Even more so, for a film that takes place in one night, with shootouts and chases, the pace is remarkably slow, it should be non-stop when really it has a few bursts of energy but for the most part remains overly steady.

Overall, the writing is terrible, it’s predictable, cliched and at some points even annoying, the plot is fairly transparent and unsatisfying and despite a few good performances, it’s simply cheap filmmaking made to look expensive. It’s the type of film that’s extraneous in today’s cinema, it’s simply not the kind of film that audiences need more of and the budget would be better given to filmmakers with more original ideas.

Verdict: ✯

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