21 Bridges follows Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman), a determined NYPD defective. Scarred by the death of his father, Davis patrols the streets, hoping to improve the community at large. When two crooks murder a squad of police officers, Davis takes the case, setting up a deadly scenario. After closing every bridge in Manhattan, Davis digs deep, finding a ring of corruption that is connected to his colleagues. Even with a sloppy start, director Brian Kirk’s film is a fine source of entertainment, complete with strong performances and stable craftsmanship.
After an awkwardly-written scene that focuses on Andre and Internal Affairs, the story sets into motion. Kirk, (a filmmaker widely known for his work on Game of Thrones and Penny Dreadful) shows great promise on the big screen, giving the 21 Bridges a tight sense of colorfulness. The creative locations pile on one another, providing us with a polished, frantic look at New York’s underbelly.
When 21 Bridges slows down, the ensuing interactions enter a clear void of obviousness. We see the events transpire, then we are forced to hear police speculation. Unsurprisingly, these cinematic retreads stall the narrative in many places. Thankfully, Kirk makes sure that every interaction is relatively concise.
21 Bridges isn’t going to revolutionize action cinema. However, its action components are respectable. Every act is visibly clear, and as time moves forward, the film changes its conflictual rhythm. In particular, there is a neat chase through the streets of New York City, combining urban expansiveness and claustrophobia.
From a diversity standpoint, 21 Bridges is exceptionally realized. Boseman, a talented black actor, drives the narrative like a man possessed. At every turn, he imbues the character with integrity and resoluteness. In turn, we witness a balanced performance, devoid of dullness and miscalculation. Sienna Miller, a talented actress, expertly backs up Boseman. Her character is tough and mangy, lacking any trace of irresponsible sexuality or shoe-horned femininity. She’s a professional at what she does, and when a problem arises, she isn’t afraid to voice her opinion. Clearly, Miller’s role comes from a place of female respectability, and the film is all the better for it.
Even with a rushed ending, the final conflict has traces of admirability. The moralistic dialogue points to hefty themes, allowing the actors to sustain their imposing existence. When the physicality hits, the film succeeds by melding action and suspense. The multiple methods of movement create a nice change of pace, adding versatility to a well acted conflict.
In closing, I recommend that you check out 21 Bridges It’s not a transcendent piece of cinema. But overall, it’s solid entertainment. You could do a lot worse!
Originally published by Dillon McCarty for Incluvie on December 9, 2019.