When I watched the action-packed thriller 21 Bridges, I expected to be kept on the edge of my seat, and I certainly was. This movie stressed me out, but in a good way.
It began with a backstory of the main character, Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman), whose father was a police officer murdered in the line of duty. Andre seemingly decided to become a cop as a way of dedicating his life to seeking justice, following in his father’s footsteps.
Several years into his career, Andre is now a detective for the NYPD and has gained notoriety among his colleagues as the “cop who kills cop killers.”
On this particular night, Andre is called to the scene of an armed robbery that features 50 kilos of cocaine and the murder of several police officers. In very few words, Captain McKenna (J.K. Simmons) makes it abundantly clear why Andre was put on this case.
The island of Manhattan is closed, and we follow Andre and his partner, Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller), on the case as they chase two suspects through the borough.
The movie did not waste time. With a run time of less than 2 hours, 21 Bridges was a well-paced thriller with a plot that unfolded quite effortlessly. However, it did not end in the way I expected — a final showdown between the two culprits, Ray and Michael (Taylor Kitsch and Stephan James, respectively), and the NYPD at the border of Manhattan. You’d think that’s what all this drama was leading up to, but no.
[Cue the plot twist that I will try not to spoil for you.]
I will say this: There was no way I could watch this movie about a cop chasing cop killers with the intention of killing them without considering the current political climate and the well-founded general distrust of police officers.
In this current era, did someone really make a movie about a cop (who is painted as the film’s hero) chasing suspects on clear orders to kill them? What happened to due process? Is this really the story we need to see right now — or ever? These were the questions I asked myself as the movie approached its end.
Thankfully, without trying to be deep, cheesy or unnecessarily political, 21 Bridges managed to maintain its intensity while highlighting a different side of this controversial issue, and it made it clear that even those who seem blameless might not be.
Was the film completely realistic? Certainly not. But I’ve concluded that, in films, some things must be sacrificed for the sake of telling the story and maintaining its pace. The problem begins when that sacrifice becomes excessive, which, thankfully, did not happen here.
Overall, I enjoyed the film and appreciated its plot. It did a good job of providing a different perspective of police officers’ lives and the conditions under which they work without making excuses for them or painting them to be above the law.