Review: 21 Bridges

Director: Brian Kirk

Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Stephan James, Sienna Miller

21 – The number of bridges connecting Manhattan to the outside world that are shut down by maverick cop Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman) in order to contain the fugitives of his latest case; a drug robbery gone horribly wrong.

2 – The number of suspects in his case; Michael (Stephan James), the thoughtful and generally ‘nice’ guy in over his head who watches his future collapse as events spiral out of his control, and Ray (Taylor Kitsch), a former marksman who doesn’t give a shit how many cops he kills or red lights he runs to keep the two of them on the move.

8 – The number of cops killed in the shootout that occurs when their simple drug raid goes horribly wrong because

300 – The number of kilos of cocaine found at the stash-house they try to rob, as opposed to the 3 they were expecting.

1 – The number of men guarding 300 kilos of cocaine.

1 – The number of reasons Davis has been chosen to head-up the case. He’s a renegade. A Dirty Harry type who, only hours earlier, was sat before Internal Affairs justifying the number of suspects he’s shot and killed in the line of duty. Evidently his higher-ups want a man on this job who won’t ask too many questions. Obviously they don’t know Davis as well as they ought to!

85 – The precinct all of the gunned-down cops came from, all under the supervision of J.K. Simmons’ scowly Captain McKenna.

0.4 – The number of seconds it takes upon seeing J.K. Simmons’ surly police chief to begin suspecting that he’s somehow involved in all of this, and that maybe not everything is as it seems…(!)

32 – The number of seconds, roughly, that Keith David manages to get on screen. Seriously, what the hell happened there?

21 – The number of bridges connecting Manhattan to the outside world that are immediately forgotten about as soon as they’re mentioned, because they’re actually of no relevance to the story. Michael and Ray have seemingly no intention of trying to escape the island. See also the

4 – Tunnel exits and… I’ve forgotten how many ferries. Don’t think about them anyway. Doesn’t matter!

4 – The number of hours that Davis and ATF Agent Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller) have to bring in their suspects before the Mayor calls for those bridges to be opened again (note the irrelevance of this ticking clock based on the immediately preceding point).

91 – The number of movies attributed to Huayi Brothers on imdb. Their ident as H.Brothers has cropped up frequently of late as the Chinese giant pushes into the Hollywood marketplace, bringing us such durable classics as A Bad Moms Christmas, Skyscraper, The Happytime Murders and, of course, The Meg. Theirs is an imprint synonymous with quality, clearly.

92 – The number of seats in the multiplex auditorium where I saw 21 Bridges. A relatively small screen, granted, but virtually sold out, with only one seat unaccounted for. This as the juggernaut Frozen II roars out of every other conceivable screening room in the complex. Regardless of quality, people come to see Huayi Brothers flicks. And why not? Their material has a habit of providing disposable entertainment. Brainless fluff for the eyes and ears. Loud distractions priced at – depending on your location – anything from £6 to £20 per person (what are London prices these days? I shudder to think…)

27 – The number of director credits held for Brian Kirk on imdb, almost all of which are in television, including for the likes of Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. This workmanlike day-player mentality makes sense when watching 21 Bridges, which is as anonymous as can be. There is nothing wrong with directing TV. Some incredible TV is being made at the moment. But directors of TV work differently to feature directors, and a lot of that mentality shows in a project like 21 Bridges. ‘Get the job done’ feels like the mandate here. No more, no less.

99 – The number of minutes this film runs end-to-end, credits included, which – given the inevitable conspiracy detours it takes, secret USB drives and all – at least makes it more efficient than binge-watching an entire season of 24, which is essentially what this movie amounts to.

200+ – The number of spent shell cases by the end of this movie. That’s the vaguest of guesses. It’s probably loads more. You may even be able to double it for all I know. 21 Bridges makes up for its plot holes (too many to count) and clumsy moralising with wall-to-wall gun porn. As if this is impressive in an era of chronic mass shootings. From a film which pivots off of a mass shooting, guilelessly.

– The number of times – at least – that characters loudly ask “What the fuck is going on?” in this movie (from the time I started noticing enough to count).

– The number of movies about being trapped on Manhattan Island you need; it’s called Escape From New York. 

What does all this add up to?

Not much.

Score: 

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