Reel Reviews | 21 Bridges

by Charles Kirkland Jr.

Chadwick Boseman reunites with The Russo Brothers outside of the Marvel universe in the crime thriller, 21 Bridges.

Detective Andre Davis has a reputation for completing his job in a certain, deadly way.  So when four police officers are killed after a restaurant robbery involving 50 kilos of cocaine at 1 am, Davis is given the case to catch the killers and execute justice for the officers.  Convinced that the killers are on Manhattan Island, Davis suggests that the island be locked down to trap the killers quickly.

Director Brian Kirk, who has extensive work in television, brings the screenplay from Adam Mervis (The Philly Kid) and Matthew Michael Carnahan (The Kingdom, Deepwater Horizon) to the big screen in his feature-length movie debut.  With the assistance of Boseman, J.K. Simmons, Stephan James, Taylor Kitsch, Sienna Miller and Keith David, 21 Bridges is a taut crime drama that is a great opening salvo to the career of Kirk.  Joe and Anthony Russo who were the directors on Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame step into the role of producers for this movie.

Chadwick Boseman is strong in this film.  He plays a man who is driven for justice by the death of his father.  (Sound familiar?)  He is smart, decisive and stubborn to a fault.  Boseman again seems to be repeating performances here.  While he doesn’t engage in any super-powered action, he does have a few action scenes that are convincingly real.  (It does take a minute of adjusting to not hearing the Wakandan accent).  But Boseman shines the best when is confronting J.K. Simmons character, Captain McKenna, the demanding captain of the fallen officers and Stephan James’ villainous killer, Michael.

With a runtime of 99 minutes, Kirk’s pacing is a welcome respite from the norm.  In a world where directors and studios are tempted to drag a good story out to the three-hour mark and beyond (see The Irishman), it is refreshing to see a movie where a story is told in a concise fashion. This movie moves quickly, maybe to emphasize the urgency of the matter within the film, maybe because it is just a smart move.

With an R rating for violence and language throughout, 21 Bridges is a taut, tense, quick-strike crime action drama that leaves nothing to waste.  Boseman’s acting is good, Simmons and James are better.  The whole case excels but the real star is Bryan Kirk for his splendid direction, capturing the dark underbelly of Manhattan.

Grade:  B