REVIEW: ’21 Bridges’ isn’t sensational, but it is streamable

The characters didn’t go to all 21 bridges. 1 out of 5.

Just kidding, kind of.

This film is a sophomore feature effort by director Brian Kirk, who in the past helmed 2006’s “Middletown.” His latest film stars Chadwick Boseman as Andre Davis, a detective with roughly a decade of experience with the New York City Police Department. While he’s a good detective, though, he’s also gained a negative reputation of being too quick on the trigger.

His expertise is called upon, though, when a drug incident turns into a blood bath, with several police officers dead and the two responsible going on the run. To capture the two and bring them to justice, Andre and another investigator, Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) launch a city-wide manhunt and shut down all 21 bridges out of New York.

“21 Bridges” is basically the quintessential movie that one can either rent or catch on cable and enjoy, but not necessarily rush out to the theater for. Its story, for example, is hit or miss.

This is a film that goes through a lot of familiar cop/crime drama motions, with quite a few predictable twists and turns. While it’s not the most original story, though, it has somewhat of an engaging quality in portraying the detectives having to solve a mystery with a limited time. It can certainly hook an audience’s attention for an hour and a half.

The movie also tries to take an additional angle by following the stories of the two robbers who’re being hunted. Unfortunately, though, there’s a repetition that the picture falls into with the characters being hunted and the cops who’re chasing them. Basically the robbers leave behind a clue, the main detectives show up just a minute too late, and the hunt continues.

21 Bridges
Courtesy MWM Studios and STX Entertainment.

The process just keeps recycling and as a result, the picture loses its steam as it goes along. Cat-and-mouse plots can work alright, but this one starts to have that rinse-and-repeat feel.

It’s also noticeable that the main character doesn’t have as much of an arc. The picture introduces some mystery at the start by having Andre seem like a cop who may take things too far, or like the type of officer who could go on a power trip, but it’s never really shown. It’s not as if this needed to be a noir type picture, but a bit more depth or conflict with Andre would’ve been nice.

Unfortunately, the writing doesn’t do much to make up for a mostly average story. Much of the dialogue included in the script is fairly weak, with lines being either too on-the-nose or so cheesy that they’re inauthentic.

The definite highlight of the movie is its cast, which does have some talent.

Boseman has proven himself as a leading actor in “Black Panther” and it shows here, as he takes charge of scenes and gives off a true screen presence. His performance gives his character the necessary gravitas and pathos that works for a detective.

The cast also includes Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons, Stephen James who’s known from good work such as “Selma” and “If Beale Street Could Talk,” as well as solid character actor Keith David. While certainly not a career highlight, the cast does the most with the material they’re given here.

Overall this is a largely by-the-books crime flick and honestly it doesn’t even really justify its premise. The threat featured, as horrific as it is, doesn’t seem to necessitate the world’s busiest city shutting down. The dialogue featured is also mostly sub-par. However, it’s somewhat entertaining and the solid cast elevates the picture somewhat for a solid rental type movie. 2.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, and I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2009 graduate of Rainy River College and a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University in Moorhead. At MSU, I studied journalism and film. Outside of movies, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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