Televison Director Brian Kirk’s maiden feature film “21 Bridges” is designed by amalgamating a pumped-up cop-versus-criminal chase and beat-the-clock crime thriller. It is slickly mounted, action packed and dark. The tale unfurls one night in Manhattan.
The plot accelerates roughly after midnight when a planned drug heist involving two criminals — the dangerous one, portrayed by Taylor Kitsch, and a level headed one, played by Stephen James — goes awry.
It is perfectly evident that they have been set up. The criminals were told this would be a smalltime stickup, only to discover 300 kilos of high grade cocaine. It is also strange how quickly the police arrive and how aggressively they attempt to secure the property. So, in their bid to escape, the criminals kill eight police officers and escape in the dark.
Soon, Police Chief, Captain McKenna (JK Simmons) summons ace shooter Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman), who is known as “a cop who kills cop killers,” among peers, and the tough narcotics detective Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) to the site, and implores them to track down the criminals and eliminate them if need be.
Before taking off like hound dogs pursuing their prey through Manhattan, Andre figures that the drugs would be sold off within three to four hours. So in order to keep the criminals trapped on the island, he convinces his seniors to close off all the bridges and subway tunnels that connect the Island, but only until 5am. This is the initial premise of the film and also how the film gets its name.
The cat-and-mouse chase between the police and the bad guys trying to outwit each other is an exciting concept and has been witnessed many a time earlier. This one too, with by-the-numbers action, is no different.
But once the criminals are cornered, layers unravel and the sheen of the film vanishes. What you get is a generic film with no outstanding personalities or incidents. We don’t even see the 21 bridges being blockaded.
The writing is so mediocre that Chadwick Boseman, who otherwise is a brilliant actor, has little to offer. His backstory and humane side of the character does not help him to elevate the character either.
Similarly there is no scope for Sienna Miller to show her histrionics. As Frankie Burns, she is relegated to just a few shootout scenes, and we are told that she is a mom who is singlehandedly bringing up her daughter.
JK Simmons as the Chief of Police has his moment of on-screen glory, but that’s not speaking much of his acting calibre.
Overall, the film has a few standout action sequences to boast of, and nothing more. [By Troy Ribeiro]