Cop-thriller ‘21 Bridges’ fails to live up to potential 

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“21 Bridges,” a cop-thriller starring Chadwick Boseman, has incredible performances from an all-star cast, but fails to let a seemingly good plot reach its full potential.  

Boseman plays Andre Davis, a weary but extremely smart New York detective with a reputation for shooting first and thinking second, who is hired by the NYPD to find two men involved in a heist that resulted in eight cops dead and several kilograms of cocaine stolen. Davis is given one night to find the two suspects and calls for the 21 bridges leading out of Manhattan to be shut down – giving the cop-killers nowhere to escape.  

Davis and another detective, played by Sienna Miller, manage to find the two suspects in record time, only to discover the crime is more complicated than it originally seemed. Without giving too much away, it turns out the cops may have been involved in selling the cocaine found by the two criminals. Detective Davis decides not to kill the criminal, intrigued by this accusation, but it takes a lot of running around (literally) and determination for him to uncover the full truth.  

Irish director Brian Kirk, best known for directing episodes of “Game of Thrones” and “Brotherhood,” directs the film, and Anthony and Joe Russo, directors of “Avengers: Endgame,” are producers of the film along with Boseman. With such accredited people involved creating this film, expectations from critics were high.  

While the movie certainly has its fair share of action and thrills – there were more murders, car chases and shooting than I can even count – the general plot falls short. It’s predictable and fails to go into enough detail about, well, anything. Characters that have so much potential are left underdeveloped, the controversies that should’ve been a shock to the audience are made far too predictable and there is more killing and chasing than actual substance. 

Another issue with the film is the lack of context the audience is given. Instead of motivations behind certain actions, people’s roles in the crime being revealed naturally or certain details of the film being explained in depth, they are glossed over or just ignored completely. We only briefly learn about characters’ backstories and motives, which could have been a really interesting aspect of the film but fell short. 

The film offers some commentary on injustice in the police system and is able to do a good job of showing both sides to every story. We can see the reasons behind the NYPD’s, the cop-killers’ and the detective’s actions. If the true criminals weren’t so obvious from the beginning, and if their stories were examined more in-depth, this aspect of the film could have been much more thought-provoking than it actually was.  

Each actor brought a lot of emotion to their roles and I was blown away by the incredible acting, particularly from Boseman and Stephan James (from Academy Award-winning “If Beale Street Could Talk”). James plays Michael, one of the two criminals Detective Davis is searching for, and you can feel his distrust in others and fear through the screen. He does an impeccable job portraying someone who is in a difficult situation and has complicated emotions about what he is doing. He carries so much emotion with him throughout his performance, and his acting is one of the best parts of the film. 

Boseman was convincing as a jaded detective who will stop at nothing to solve a crime. His values are rooted in fearlessness and integrity, and while he is known for killing, it’s clear that he means well.  

“Justice is at the heart and essence of who he is. He’s a person who can be misunderstood,” Boseman said of his character in an interview for YouTube channel HeyUGuys. “Throughout the film, there’s this idea that he must be doing something that is wrong or illegal. In fact, it’s because he is willing to get so close to things that are unjust.” 

Supporting actors such as Taylor Kitsch and JK Simmons also give amazing performances.  

My verdict is that if you like action films or the starring actors, go see “21 Bridges.” Just keep your expectations low and focus more on the thrills than the plot itself.  

Rating: 2/5 

Thumbnail photo courtesy of @21bridgesmovie Instagram


Melissa Scrivani is the associate life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at melissa.scrivani@uconn.edu.

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