Combustible Celluloid
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With: Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, J.K. Simmons, Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch, Keith David, Alexander Siddig, Louis Cancelmi, Victoria Cartagena, Gary Carr, Morocco Omari, Chris Ghaffari, Dale Pavinski
Written by: Adam Mervis, Matthew Michael Carnahan, based on a story by Adam Mervis
Directed by: Brian Kirk
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language throughout
Running Time: 99
Date: 11/22/2019

21 Bridges (2019)

3 Stars (out of 4)

'Bridge' Game

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

This 99-minute New York City cop action-drama has a bit of a stiff start, and a somewhat silly ending, but in-between, it's a brisk, no-frills entertainment, thanks mainly to Boseman's star charisma.

In 21 Bridges, two criminals, Ray (Taylor Kitsch) and Michael (Stephan James), show up for a job, stealing 30 kilos of cocaine. But when they get there, they find 300 kilos instead. They are also interrupted by a quartet of cops. Ray shoots eight cops in all, and the pair escapes.

Police detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman), who has a history of shooting perpetrators, is called in to find the two cop killers. He orders the city of Manhattan closed off, and has only four hours to find them. Paired with narcotics detective Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller), he follows his nose and pieces together the clues, but as he gets closer, he learns that something isn't quite right inside the police force.

21 Bridges begins with an attempt to explain young Andre's motivations, which isn't really followed up, nor really needed. Then there's an awkwardly-written scene of grown-up Andre being interrogated by Internal Affairs. But after that things get going very quickly, and director Brian Kirk — a TV veteran (Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful, etc.) making his feature debut — keeps them going.

For most of the movie, the action is fairly clean, interactions are brief, and Kirk makes excellent, colorful use of Manhattan, from villain's lairs to the underbellies of restaurants and hotels. Boseman is paired with Miller, who is allowed to be tough and relentless while looking a bit shabby and ratty; she isn't defined by her looks or her femininity. The two cop killers, likewise, are more than just sneering bad guys. They have a history and a shorthand, and they are smart and scared.

It's all pretty good until the final denouncement and showdown, which does have one or two interesting themes, but which throws it all away on a rush job. But Boseman is commanding from start to finish, and 21 Bridges is a passable enough entertainment for fans of the genre.

Universal's Blu-ray release includes a bonus DVD and digital copy. The Blu-ray video transfer is excellent with sharp contrast to the night scenes and a bold audio mix. Director Brian Kirk and editor Tim Murrell provide a commentary track, and other bonuses include three deleted scenes (about 3 minutes, total), and a selection of trailers.

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