21 Bridges

Nov 29, 2019

Shutting down exit from Manhattan is the most thrilling part of this mediocre thriller.

21 Bridges

Grade: C+

Director: Brain Kirk (Game of Thrones)

Screenplay: Adam Mervis (The Philly Kid), Matthew Michael Carnahan (Dark Waters)

Cast: Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Sienna Miller (The lost City of Z)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1h 39m

By: John DeSando

“We got twenty-one bridges in and out of Manhattan. Shut them down. Three rivers. Close them. Four tunnels. Block them. Stop every train and loop the subways. Then, we flood the island with blue.” (Andre Davis) Chadwick Boseman

That pretty much covers the plot of 21 Bridges a conceit intriguing enough but second place to the demands of formula, in this case good cop vs. many bad cops.

Although Andre is enough of heroic stock to carry the picture, Black Panther and Thorogood Marshall for starters, he tackles another great man with this time no history to lend gravity. He’s just another talented cop challenged by corrupt ones to call them out on drug dealing in our biggest and most glamorous city, NYC.

Two tough guys have murdered 7 cops in a drug pickup turned bad. Detective Davis orders the 21 bridges and the tunnels shut down before the thugs can leave the island. Let the chase begin.

The complication to the plot is the number of possible cop crooks involved in the dealing, this haul worth millions. If you’ve seen these thrillers before, especially the bad-cop kind, then you’ll pretty much guess the malefactors. Yet, the aerial shots of Manhattan, the chasing cop cars, and the acting chops of JK Simmons should hold you for the modest 1 h 39 min.

On a lazy holiday afternoon, you could do worse than watch Bozeman and Simmons sharpen their craft even in a mediocre thriller enhanced by Brian Kirk’s slick production and Michael Matthew Carnahan’s co-writer pen (his work is much more laudable in the current menacing docudrama Dark Waters). Go see Uncut Gems or Irishman for seriously artful crime dramas.

If you can put up with this heavy-handed dialogue in 21 Bridges, then you’ll enjoy the action:

“Being a cop was not a choice,” “Justice comes at a cost.” Andre.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at