By Mark Saldana
Rating: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Television director Brian Kirk makes his cinematic debut with a movie that shows much talent behind its tense beats and action sequences, but is held back by a thin story and lackluster character development. 21 Bridges, with all of its talent in front of its lenses, should be a much more compelling and riveting drama/thriller, but the weak writing makes all of its morality posturing and attempts at gravity a mostly unsatisfying experience.
Chadwick Boseman stars as Andre Davis, a highly skilled and smart police detective under much scrutiny for his violent career. At a time when Davis would probably prefer to avoid drama, a drug heist by Michael Trujillo (Stephan Trujillo) and Ray Jackson (Taylor Kitsch) turns horribly violent. While attempting to boost a hefty amount of cocaine from drug dealer, the police unexpectedly arrive, but Trujillo and Jackson escape leaving several officers dead at the scene. In an attempt to capture the assailants, Detective Davis, with the permission of his authorities lockdown the island of Manhattan where the suspects are still at large. Still, something is rotten in the city of New York and as Davis and partner Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) invesigate further, the stench reveals something rather disturbing.
Written by Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael Carnahan, 21 Bridges attempts to make a bold statement about police corruption, but just doesn’t have the proper story or character development to pull it off. This is a damn shame because the movie does benefit from some skillfully directed and edited action sequences. The movie also has such a talented cast that seriously deserves a much better movie.
Chadwick Boseman brings a strong, deliberate and confident resolve to the character of Andre Davis. It is a highly watchable character, but one that is held back from more fleshed out development. Sienna Miller gives a credible and competent turn as Frankie Burns, but suffers from even worse writing. JK Simmons, Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch, Keith David, and the rest offer fine work, but are also derailed from the proper realizations in the script.
So, the end result is a mostly trite exercise in action cinema. It is a movie I would recommend as something to pass time at home, but definitely not a film I’d recommend for the theater. Brian Kirk shows great skill as a director of action-oriented cinema, but deserves a better script to really show what he can accomplish at a cinematic level.