21 Bridges (2 stars)

21 Bridges

Chadwick Boseman heads up an intermittently exciting but convoluted and cliched cop thriller

The Russo brothers, best known for directing two Captain America instalments and Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, have branched out into production with their outfit AGBO Films. They are reunited with Black Panther himself, Chadwick Boseman, for a crime thriller directed by Brian Kirk (who has a solid background in TV) and written by Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael Carnahan. It's an action-packed blood bath that has a lot in common with a Peter Berg-style thriller as it follows an upright detective on his race-against-the-clock investigation of a couple of cop killers.

Boseman plays Andre Davis, introduced at a tender age as he attends his police officer father's funeral. Fast-forward to 19-years later and Andre is slamming his fist on a table and speaking in platitudes at a hearing where his gun use is up for debate. After a drug heist gone wrong, where multiple colleagues are killed in the line of duty, he locks down Manhattan and partners up with Sienna Miller's narcotics detective (occasionally dipping into a 'wicked-smart' Boston accent). The rest of the cast includes JK Simmons as a tough-as-nails NYPD captain, shouting about 'horseshit narratives', Keith David as a supportive police-chief mentor, and Stephan James and Taylor Kitsch as the criminals on the run.

To say that 21 Bridges is convoluted would be a gross understatement. In its attempt to combine various heist flicks and classics like Serpico and Infernal Affairs with 'big themes', it lacks the focus to maintain a gripping momentum. There is, however, something endearing in Boseman's characterisation as a black Batman-type avenging cop, with the vast aerial shots and grubby alleyways conjuring a gritty Gotham City vibe. The well-directed chase sequences mean it is intermittently exhilarating, while close attention to the aftermath of gun violence suggests hidden depths that nevertheless struggle to make much of an impact in a predictable, cliche-ridden screenplay.

General release from Fri 22 Nov.

21 Bridges

  • 2 stars
  • 2019
  • US
  • 1h 39min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Brian Kirk
  • Cast: Sienna Miller, Taylor Kitsch, JK Simmons
  • UK release: 22 November 2019

Andre Davis (Boseman) is a Manhattan detective who teams up with Boston narcotics detective Miller on an investigation of a couple of cop killers. It’s an action-packed blood-bath with well-directed chase sequences, which nevertheless struggle against a predictable and cliché-ridden screenplay.