22 November 2019 14:33
Cast - Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, JK Simmons, Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch In what amounts to making a post-MeToo film from the perspective of an accused, 21 Bridges is a broad celebration of cops at a time when the discourse around police brutality in America is at an all-time high. Directed by Game of Thrones veteran Brian Kirk, produced by Avengers: Endgame duo Joe and Anthony Russo, and featuring Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, 21 Bridges is a mediocre film with some admittedly bold ideas. When several policemen are killed during a botched robbery, suave NYPD detective Andre Davis (Boseman) is tasked with tracking down the cop-killers — played by Stephan James and (rather depressingly, considering he was once touted to be the next big Hollywood leading man) Taylor Kitsch — in a race against time, as tempers rise and the entire force calls for blood. Despite borrowing liberally from the masculine films of Michael Mann — Kirk manages to tip his hat to both Collateral and Heat in a single scene — 21 Bridges is tonally, intellectually, and stylistically similar to the Liam Neeson brand of action films. "We got twenty-one bridges in and out of Manhattan," he says, with the confidence of a man convinced it's going to become a meme.
Andre knows that manhunts such as this are likely to fizzle out if the culprits aren't nabbed within a few hours of the crime. This image released by STXfilms shows, from left, JK Simmons, Chadwick Boseman and Sienna Miller in a scene from 21 Bridges. In his quest, he's joined by a veteran cop played by JK Simmons, and a narcotics specialist played by Sienna Miller — both of whom make the most of their thinly written characters by drenching them with a dour weariness. 21 Bridges is the sort of movie that takes more pleasure in staging a stylish gunfight than properly developing its characters; and Kirk probably spent more time in lighting his shots than ironing out some of the script's more clunky bits. For instance, was it necessary to make Andre the son of a cop who was killed in the line of duty?
When eight of his uniformed comrades are slaughtered one night by a couple of lowlifes with assault rifles in the course of robbing a cocaine baron, the hardbitten police chief (JK Simmons) gives Davis the nod to track down the culprits with extreme prejudice and assigns a similarly fierce narcotics officer (Sienna Miller, vocally channelling Edie Falco from The Sopranos) to help him. Davis takes the decision to close Manhattan's 21 bridges and seal off the island for his manhunt – which reveals a murky world of conspiracy and the time-honoured MacGuffin of a "USB drive". 21 Bridges has some coolly choreographed chase sequences and shootouts, but for me works best at the very beginning when it is in a "procedural" vein – as Davis works out from the crime-scene evidence available how many shooters there were and where they are likely to be now. There is an element of melodrama and absurdity of course, contriving subway-train sequences isn't exactly novel and I'd like to have seen more dialogue scenes between Boseman and Simmons, and Boseman and Miller. But the action barrels along really nicely; there is a terrific flashback scene at the top, showing the infant Andre at his father's funeral, with a great overhead shot of all the officers outside the church replacing their caps, creating a pointillism of white dots.
And the quasi-real-time pursuit is followed with great gusto. Chadwick did his best (Picture: STX Entertainment) As a huge fan of Chadwick Boseman, this is difficult to say. For all his efforts, the role of an aloof, trigger-happy NYPD cop surprisingly isn't where he excels. Or perhaps the script for 21 Bridges is just so bland that it greatly impacts his ability to pull it off convincingly. It seemed like a no-brainer collaboration – Marvel directors Joe and Anthony Russo stepping on to produce a high-pulse, adrenaline-heavy cop thriller starring Black Panther (Chadwick) himself. But while 21 Bridges, directed by Brian Kirk, had all the potential in the world, it failed to offer anything new in the cat-and-mouse genre with a twist that was fairly underwhelming. Chadwick stars as Andre Davis, a New York City detective on the hunt for two drug dealers who killed eight cops after storming a restaurant for the cocaine. The city-wide chase begins with the NYPD agreeing to shut down the island – Manhattan – to tighten the net on the two criminals. This means closing all the entry points to the city – the 21 bridges – in order to trap their suspects and the chase ensues. Of course, he's not simply a deranged, trigger-happy bent cop. Andre is unwillingly partnered up with DEA agent Frankie Burns, played by Sienna Miller with a very dodgy New York borough accent and nothing of substance to offer. The b-list characters were the real stars (Picture: STX Entertainment) (Picture: STX Entertainment) Actual Black Panther couldn't save the day (Picture: STX Entertainment) At least the visuals were pretty (Picture: STX Entertainment) Surprisingly, the real heroes of 21 Bridges aren't the a-list names on the poster, but the side characters. If you watched 2018's stunningly heart wrenching love story If Beale Street Could Talk, you'll know Stephan James is a force to be reckoned with. His stunning performance in the Oscar-winning movie left a stain on our heart and set him up for great things to come. In 21 Bridges, he's one of the cop killers on-the-run and, boy, can he run. Stephan's character Michael certainly gives a good chase positioning himself as a promising action star. Even in the few scenes he had, Stephan gave all the heart and dimension that the script was so desperately lacking in other areas. Michael's sidekick Ray (Taylor Kitsch) and their drug money launderer offer gritty and sophisticated performances respectively, giving us tense moments we can sink our teeth into. 21 Bridges is cinematically stylish and slick with stunning shots of the New York City skyline. 21 Bridges hits UK cinemas on 22 November. If you've got a story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk Entertainment team by emailing us [email protected], calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page - we'd love to hear from you. Darren Lipari wears many hats--actor, director and writer--and has quite a portfolio to his credit. Lipari has been a face across popular television shows like 'Mr Robot', 'Girls', 'The Blacklist' and 'Law and Order' – to name a few. Lipari is not new to the world of crime-thriller and action movies after having worked prolifically in the genre. Despite having played the role of a cop multiple times, he feels that the persona of the cop that he essays keeps on changing. Now I see myself fitting into the role of a cop, but across various shades." How Lipari landed the role in '21 Bridges' is a story in itself. Never having worked before with Brian Kirk, the role of Lt. Kelly happened out of the blue. He auditioned for the role and he found a connection between the Irish director, his Gaelic name, and even the character in the movie being Irish. Next, when we asked him about his chemistry with his co-stars, he candidly shared his excitement about having a "pinch-me" moment with actors like J.K. Simmons, Sienna Miller, Taylor Kitsch, and more, with whom he has worked earlier, admired, and looked up to as inspirations. With Chadwick Boseman, however, Darren shares a special relationship. "When I got the part, I was only attached to Chadwick. I always respected him as a character actor. A star like him being attached to the project, and the rest of the ensemble cast, I knew it would be a great project to work on. But at the same time, I knew we were collaborators, and we had a great bonding opportunity, watching and learning from people I adore." Directed by Brian Kirk and produced by Joe and Anthony Russo, the action thriller movie follows NYPD cop Andre Davis (Boseman), who is on a manhunt to find the killers who murdered NYPD cops. Lipari plays the role of Lt. Kelly, who assists Davis in his hunt for the killers. Together, they will leave no stone unturned to find the two perpetrators who killed eight of his fellowmen in a robbery gone wrong, even if it means bringing the whole of New York City under lockdown. '21 Bridges' releases in theaters on November 22, 2019. If you have an entertainment scoop or a story for us, please reach out to us on (323) 421-7515