Ewan Gleadow

Review: 21 Bridges

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Copyright: STXFilms

If there’s one genre I simply haven’t explored enough of, it’s the American police drama. There are so many of them it’s truly difficult to know where you should really start. Do you start with the classic buddy cop Lethal Weapon series, or do you dive right into the gritty classics like Dirty Harry and The French Connection? I opted for the second option, and have yet to see Mel Gibson and Danny Glover ride around the streets complaining about how old they are. 21 Bridges is the latest entry into the American police-oriented thriller, a film that makes you wonder why the genre didn’t die much sooner. 

An example of how deceptive movie trailers are these days, I headed into 21 Bridges expecting a simplistic cat and mouse game where a detective looking to clear his shady reputation tracks down two cop killers through the streets of New York. What could’ve been an incredible looking thrill ride instead spills into being a generic piece that overflows with political tension. The streets of New York light up blue in this cop drama from director Brian Kirk, and starring the likes of Chadwick Boseman, J.K. Simmons and Sienna Miller. 

Each give shaky performances on varying levels of incompetence. Never quite bouncing back from the fame he achieved with his Best Supporting Actor win for Whiplash, J.K. Simmons seemingly phones in yet another performance in the latter years of his successful career. I couldn’t tell you the last solid role he gave us, he was pretty forgettable in The Front Runner, that’s how high the bar is set for him. A real shame too given that I’m such a fan of the guy; he’s had a string of rough supporting performances that aren’t allowing him to excel in a way that provides us anything new or interesting for him. With 21 Bridges, he fills the role that you’d expect a nobody to play, a police chief with seemingly innocent motives. 

Of course, you can’t have a cop film these days without a bit of corruption thrown in. Instead of focusing on the chase itself, we instead spiral into a dissection of corrupt cops, seedy deals and the cartel and police force working hand in hand to secure the highest profits possible. We’ve seen and heard this in just about every movie, to the point where you can fill in the blanks yourself. 21 Bridges provides us with no twists or turns, nothing exciting around any corner it dares to show itself from. Chadwick Boseman is at least a convincing lead and the film lets him spread his acting abilities a little bit more than any other project he’s had so far.  

A shame then that this doesn’t matter when the script is dire, full of eccentric cliché and plot holes galore. Feeling more and more unfinished as it wades on through a handful of desperate clutches at nail-biting tension, 21 Bridges manages to take a group of talented individuals and make them feel like they’re mere amateurs struggling to get through their first performance. Kirk’s direction is surprisingly solid for the most part, a nicely put together piece that suffers from being extremely boring in the majority of its moments. There are a handful of nice action set pieces, but nothing that will amaze or inspire you. 21 Bridges provides an insignificant and wholly forgettable experience that you’ll manage to forget within minutes of the credits rolling.