21 Bridges Action

Review: Chadwick Boseman Goes From Superhero to Super Cop in ’21 Bridges’

November 18, 2019Ferdosa Abdi

There is no love lost for crime thrillers that have the entire journey laid out before you within the first 20 minutes. However, there is something admirable about a thriller that manages to hold your attention as it takes you around every predictable corner.

21 Bridges is a film that should have come out some time ago, and perhaps if it had opened closer to the Oscars — when stars Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) and Stephan James (If Beale Street Could Talk) were hotly discussed due to their starring roles in Oscar-nominated films — it would actually be on moviegoers' radars. With the constant release date changes, a crowded release calendar and little buzz, however, the movie is bound to have a rather lackluster showing in theatres. Yet, it doesn't deserve that and, hopefully, the ancillary market will give it a second chance.

Boseman and James play a detective named Andre Davis and a thief named Michael, respectively. Two people on opposite sides of a brutal crime, each has their own motivations to see that they survive the night after New York City is put on lockdown. But with all 21 bridges out of Manhattan closed down and the stakes rising with each passing hour, the result is a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse. Proving that they are skilled and professional actors capable of elevating this otherwise dull thriller, Boseman and James aren't alone in this either, as there are a plethora of other fine performers who do their job well enough. Unfortunately, the cast is let down by a script that reveals all its cards early, though that isn't to say that there isn't some enjoyment to be had.

Cinematographer Paul Cameron (Collateral, The Commuter) does a good job creating the atmosphere needed for a city-set thriller, while director Brian Kirk (Great Expectations, Game of Thrones) competently captures the tense and fraught nature of the events that unfold. Despite their efforts, however, the third act falls apart once all the pieces come together, even though it all manages to end on a fairly satisfying note. All this film needs is a script that attempts to challenge the audience or engage with the crime in question with some nuance or a critical eye. Instead, what we are left with is a basic understanding of what is being addressed, without any meaningful insight whatsoever.

Ultimately, 21 Bridges is an interesting thriller that will keep viewers engaged throughout, but the movie can easily become a fleeting memory once you step out of the theatre. What will stick in viewers' minds, however, is how good Boseman and James are in their roles — not to mention how great they look in their suits.

21 Bridges releases November 22nd, 2019 from VVS Films. The film has an MPAA rating of R for violence and language throughout. Its runtime is 1 hr. 39 min.

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