21 Bridges (2019) Review

21 Bridges has all the essential ingredients needed to score a box-office hit. It has Black Panther‘s Chadwick Boseman in the lead role, a potentially exciting race-against-time premise about an NYPD detective shutting down the entire titular bridges of Manhattan to stop the runaway cop killers (Stephen James’ Michael Trujillo and Taylor Kitsch’s Ray Jackson) while the Russo brothers (Anthony & Joe) both served as co-producers.

And yet, the movie received largely mixed responses and even tanked in the box-office when it opened in the stateside back in late November. Upon finally getting the chance to watch it on a screening (the official Malaysia release date will be on Jan 2, 2020), I admit that 21 Bridges does have its fair shares of problems. This is particularly evident during the underdeveloped third act, where Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael Carnahan’s screenplay tries to slip in some last-minute revelations. Let’s just say the person who’s truly involved doesn’t get a proper character arc to make everything justifiable. Sure, there’s the usual confession of whys and such but it’s simply too brief and a little too late.

Other than that, 21 Bridges gets most of the things right. Chadwick Boseman displays his perfectly no-nonsense charm to his dedicated NYPD cop role of Andre Davis. The nearly-unrecognisable Sienna Miller delivers solid support as his Narcotics detective partner Frankie Burns while both Stephen James and Taylor Kitsch round up the impressive cast as two convicted robbers-turned-cop killers.

Veteran TV director Brian Kirk, whose credits include the likes of Penny Dreadful and The Tudors, proves his worth with his lean and mostly tight direction. The action is tense and palpable, with thrilling gunfights that almost reminds of Michael Mann’s works and a well-staged foot chase. It certainly has that refreshingly old-school vibe in 21 Bridges while Paul Cameron’s nighttime cinematography deserves special mention for the way he captures the lively urban New York cityscapes. It also helps that Henry Jackman and Alex Belcher’s bass-and-string heavy score elevate this reasonably pacey movie.