This low-grade New York-set action film was originally called 17 Bridges, and was supposed to open last July. It was then moved to September and then November, and what a lucky break! Because during that delay, someone realized there are not 17 bridges off the island of Manhattan but 21.
Can you imagine the reaction of J.K. Simmons’ NYPD captain if they told him: “Don’t worry, sir. Those criminals won’t get far. We’ve closed all 17 bridges!” And he’d be like: “What about Queensboro? Also known as 59th Street? You know, the one from the Simon & Garfunkel song?”
Anyway, that’s the basic premise of 21 Bridges. Mid-level thieves Michael and Ray (Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch) are interrupted on a job by the cops, and they kill a bunch of them. Straight-arrow detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) shows up and suggests the ultimate roadblock – shut down all bridges, tunnels and rivers to keep the bad guys in. Someone’s been watching Escape From New York.
The feature directing debut from Brian Kirk follows the ensuing game of cat and mouse, with narcotics officer Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) joining Andre as a second cat, and cheese in the form of 30 kilos of cocaine that Michael and Ray are anxious to convert into something a little less crime-y.
The best thing that be said about the story is that it follows Aristotles’ rules – it has a beginning, middle and end, and a unity of time, place and action. Since the ancient Greek philosopher never warned against needless flashbacks or plot twists that can be seen from a marathon’s distance away, we can cut some slack to screenwriters Matthew Michael Carnahan and Adam Mervis.
Not sure how the film managed to corral actors with the pedigrees of Boseman, Simmons, Miller and James, but they elevate the material to a level of almost-watchable. My guess is the producers brought them to Brooklyn for an audition, closed the bridge to trap them there, and neglected to mention there are eight other crossings they could have used to get away.
21 Bridges opens across Canada on Nov. 22
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