fri 13/12/2019

21 Bridges review - police corruption thriller sets a cracking pace | reviews, news & interviews

21 Bridges review - police corruption thriller sets a cracking pace

21 Bridges review - police corruption thriller sets a cracking pace

Chadwick Boseman heads strong cast as he leads a manhunt in Manhattan

Thin blue line: Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller and JK Simmons

Thanks to a powerful cast and crisp direction from Brian Kirk (Game of Thrones, Luther), 21 Bridges drives home its story of good cops, bad cops and a Big Apple rotten to the core with bulldozing force. Centre stage is Chadwick Boseman as Andre Davis, a detective renowned for showing bad guys no mercy. His record of shooting an alarming tally of felons has earned him a grilling by Internal Affairs, but Cool Hand Andre insists every killing was justified. Like his ailing old mother tells him, “you got to look the devil in the eye.”

The son of a dedicated policeman killed in the line of duty, Davis is committed to keeping that thin blue line holding steady, so when a cluster of NYPD officers are massacred during a drug robbery, he’ll stop at nothing to catch the killers. Robbers Ray (Taylor Kitsch) and Michael (Stephan James, both pictured below) thought they were going to steal 30 kilos of cocaine, but were staggered to find a stash 10 times larger. They should have smelled a rat, but instead they load up with the contraband and find they’ve triggered a murderous chain reaction. Question is, whose white powder was it?

What sets the pressure cooking under the action is that, in order to catch the bandits, the mayor gives permission for all access to Manhattan island to be cut off (that includes 21 bridges, as well as tunnels, rivers and trains). The clock’s ticking too, because the authorities want the perps, dead or alive, by 5am. "Manhattan lockdown!" yell the newspaper placards. The concentration of space and time compresses the action remorselessly and bloodily towards its crunching climax.

Nonetheless, 21 Bridges could have drowned in genre cliches were it not for performers able to wring out some strong emotional colours. Boseman, steely of eye and firm of jaw, proves himself a natural leading man even without his Black Panther costume, while Sienna Miller follows her superb performance in American Woman with a feisty turn here as scruffy, stroppy narcotics cop Frankie Burns. JK Simmons, as Captain McKenna, is so brutally commanding that you’ll find yourself straightening your back and saluting every time he appears on screen. But a nice guy? Maybe not so much.

Meanwhile, Kirk and his screenwriters Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael Carnahan have built in some twists of character and motivation to give you more than just blood and bullets to chew on. His two robbers, though gobsmackingly trigger-happy, have a back-story of shared loss and hard knocks which gives some insight into the desperation which drives them, while the script also finds space for some observations on the nature of policing in a society which has come to hate and distrust the cops. Or you can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Boseman proves himself a natural leading man even without his Black Panther costume

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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