NYPD Detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman), who is renowned for his ruthlessness, is thrust into a citywide manhunt for a pair of cop killers on the island of Manhattan. But as he races against time to catch the killers, he stumbles into a conspiracy that’s bigger than anything he’s ever encountered.
Chadwick Boseman is known for either portraying superhero Black Panther in the MCU or a whole host of real-life figures in films like 42, Marshall and Get On Up. 21 Bridges puts forward a good case for Boseman to be the next action lead. His Detective Davis is charismatic, smart and is unflinchingly pragmatic in his quest to find the truth.
Unfortunately, inconsistencies within the script muddies Davis’ characterisation. Every other cop he meets comments on the fact he’s “the cop that takes down cop killers” and they all seem to be under the impression he’s the kind of guy that shoots first and asks questions later, when his actions over the course of the film directly contradict that. Perhaps it’s a writing and directing choice, showing how people aren’t always what we perceive them to be, but with Captain McKenna (J.K. Simmons) encouraging Davis to go after these criminals with full prejudice, the message feels a bit confused.
21 Bridges has a good supporting cast though they’re not always given a lot to do. Sienna Miller plays a Neurotics Detective who’s paired up with Boseman, while Taylor Kitsch and Stephan James play the cop killers. It’s Stephan James who manages to stand out from the crowd though as younger criminal Michael. He is the first one to realise that he has unwittingly become a part of a conspiracy and his backstory, along with his actions, makes him a surprisingly sympathetic character for what could be your typical criminal stereotype.
The twists and turns aren’t particularly unpredictable but, on the whole, they manage not to be too eye-roll-inducingly obvious. The action and chase sequences are solid but it’s the stand offs between Davis and Michael that are particularly tense. Both actors are compelling to watch as they try to stay alive while puzzling out what is happening while every cop in New York City breathing down their necks.
21 Bridges is a standard action-thriller. The most interesting parts is when Davis is piecing together what happened at a crime scene or verbally sparring with Michael, but at just over a 90 minute runtime, the action and story is tight so you’re never bored – even if it’s very likely you’ll see some of the plot twists coming from miles away.
Directed by: Brian Kirk
Written by: Adam Mervis, Matthew Michael Carnahan
Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, J.K. Simmons, Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch