PRODUCED BY THE DUO THAT BROUGHT YOU AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR AND AVENGERS: ENDGAME…meaning that it was written and directed by somebody else. I knew something was fishy about this movie when the main selling point in the marketing was that the Russo Brothers were producing it. Well, knowing the fact that the term ‘producer’ in Hollywood could mean a laundry list of things, I decided to look a little deeper and you have director Brian Kirk, who is known for directing TV shows like Game of Thrones and writer Matthew Michael Carnahan known for the film Deepwater Horizon which was a box office failure. Long story short, if you did your research, you probably would have seen this coming.
21 Bridges is a film about a superstar NYPD officer named Andre Davis, who is basically the perfect cop. One night, a robbery goes bad which leaves eight cops dead and two suspects on the run, Andre decides to shut down the island of Manhattan for 5 hours until the can smoke out the killers. The problem is, there are some guys on his own team who do not want the killer to be found.
21 Bridges is a mediocre cop thriller held back by some puzzling storytelling. While this film is nowhere near as bad or woke as Charlie’s Angels, you do have the same problem that is hurting a lot of current cinema right now and that is progressive storytelling makes your films extremely predictable. Let’s start with Chadwick Boseman’s character, he is basically a saint. A cop who has never fired at a suspect until the suspect fires first. All of his shootings are justified and he is known to ask questions first and shoot later. Andre is basically the left’s idea of a perfect cop, the problem is that is not a realistic character. The idea that a cop is not justified in shooting until someone shoots at him first is an idea that would lead to someone getting shot or killed. The idea of a boy scout officer in New York City is simply a pipedream. Secondly, if you understand progressive storytelling, you will see the twists coming about an hour before the film does. It doesn’t take a genius to understand that four cops arriving at a drug den they weren’t called to were in on the take and J.K. Simmons is the only white cop in the film so of course, he was the mastermind behind it. Yet somehow the film plots around for 100 minutes to drive us to the same destination we already knew about hours ago.
There is also the issue of Stephan James’s character of Michael Trujillo. He is presented as a guy who has a clear cut history of armed robbery and various other crimes but the film tries to portray him as a criminal with a conscience while his partner is the cold-blooded one who is responsible for all of the kills. This does not work because anyone who is armed to the teeth with silenced submachine guns would not be the person who would hesitate to use it. If his partner was truly the loose cannon the film portrayed him as then Michael would have known his given the YEARS they’ve known each other and wouldn’t have done jobs with him. Progressive storytelling makes supposedly smart characters do really dumb things because the writers want to present them as moral saints even then the situation doesn’t call for it.
It’s not all bad for this film, 21 Bridges has a great cast along with a solid 1st act but the script tells the wrong story. Instead of going the route of two criminals who were set up by dirty cops to be the fall guys for a crooked operation gone bad, they go the route of presenting vanilla characters as the Marvel superheroes within a criminal underbelly and it just doesn’t work.