Current Issue #488

Film Review:
21 Bridges

Chadwick Boseman in 21 Bridges
Chadwick Boseman in 21 Bridges

This Manhattan-set crime drama aims for edginess and grittiness but proves desperately average, with Chadwick Boseman looking like he’d prefer to be anywhere else.

Boseman, still best known via his superhero duties as Marvel’s Black Panther, tries hard and almost brings some gravitas to the stock-standard role of old-school NYPD detective Andre Davis, but he’s let down by all the clichés, plotholes and sheer familiarity.

Andre is introduced as a kid (played by Christian Isaiah) at the funeral of his killed-in-the-line-of-duty Dad, and then we see him as an adult played by Boseman (almost using his real accent) getting chewed out by Internal Affairs pen-pushers for his willingness to use a gun. He then retreats home to be humanised in the most jaded way imaginable, as he cares for his frail, forgetful Mom Vonetta (Adriane Lenox).

We cut to a botched after-midnight robbery in Brooklyn where a pair of toughies, Ray (Taylor Kitsch as the hothead) and Michael (Stephan James as the sensitive one), try to steal a huge amount of cocaine from a local dealer, leaving behind dead police officers, dead civilians, crashed cars and various mayhem. Andre is quickly assigned to the case (which, when you think about it, seems a bit unlikely) and forced to work alongside Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller), and with help and hindrance from Captain McKenna (J.K. Simmons) and Deputy Chief Spencer (cult-ish player Keith David, who coincidentally voiced the Black Panther role in the animated Fantastic Four series back in the ‘90s).

Andre orders that the 21 bridges leading in and out of Manhattan be closed until dawn and soon the area is supposedly crawling with detectives, but as we follow the increasingly desperate plight of Ray and Michael, it becomes clear that something much bigger is at stake, and we’re talking corruption and conspiracy in the ranks of the 85th Precinct. Ho-hum.

Violent and thumping without being especially exciting, this was anonymously directed by smallscreen veteran Brian Kirk, and it feels like the drabbest, flattest sort of TV-type outing too, with dour performances, meaningless profanity and oodles of blood and corpses but no shock value. And then there’s Boseman, and he’s… okay.

But what a cop out.

Reviewer Rating

21 Bridges (MA) is in cinemas now

DM Bradley

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