I’m a real sucker for gritty cop movies. I saw the trailers for this and expected standard fare, yet did not realize that this was R Rated until I got my ticket. That realization completely changed the game; it’s rare these days to see a gritty cop movie that embraces the R rating. I fully expected this to be PG-13, although at the end of the day, I still got standard fare. This doesn’t mean it’s bad... Just standard.
It's incredibly telling that this movie was marketed with the Russo Brothers credit front and center despite them being merely producers. Which in a way is ultimately unfair to Brain Kirk, who did a fine job directing here. While his direction isn't particularly special, it’s certainly not "awful.” If you have seen any gritty cop thriller this side of 2001, you have pretty much seen a version of this one. 21 Bridges is shot like a TV procedural with very little flair. The lack of a shaky cam presence when it comes to the action was a pleasant surprise though, as so many films lean too far into this technique for aesthetic alone.
Much like the direction, this will appear highly familiar when it comes to plot for fans of the general genre. This isn’t Shakespeare, but why on earth would anybody go into the theater expecting that, from this? The plot can be summarized simply as this: we have a good cop trying to serve justice in a corrupt city with corrupt criminals and drug rings that easily outnumber the police force. If you’ve seen one of these stories, you’ve seen them all. This doesn’t attempt to raise the bar, but merely match it. It clears it.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
The performances are easily the highlight here. With Chadwick Boseman as the lead, what else needs to be said. The man is a "movie star" with promising acting chops which are showcased here, and his performance really kept me invested in the familiar, bare bones plot. Another plus the 21 Bridges casting gave us was the return of Taylor Kitsch to the big screen. I know he had a string of bad luck at the box office early on in the decade (2010s), so it's great to see him being given another chance to bring his menacing presence to the spotlight. Lastly it'd be a shame to not mention the involvement of the legendary actor JK Simmons, who is obviously having a real good time here, being the foul mouthed and angry individual he tends to like to play. One thing's for certain, and that is no matter what the scenario given, it’s always a joy to watch J.K. Simmons perform.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
When it comes to the film's score, not a single note resonated with me. In fact, I can’t remember any music being played. There might as well have been no score or soundtrack included. Action movies have been struggling with this as of late, and someone really needs to shake things up in this department soon because it is killing me.
There's not much to say here. 21 Bridges looks and feels like every cop centric TV show you’d find on network. Outside of COPS, ironically. Which is fine. It’s just in my opinion a little too safe.
The best thing I can say for 21 Bridges is that it is fine. Plain and simple. If you have a grandparent who enjoys the average cop show on TV or any cop centric movie you would find being syndicated on a network, then this will be an enjoyable enough time. Other than that sentiment, outside of the solid cast, there isn't much here to latch on to. In fact, you may have a hard time remembering that you crossed this bridge.