’21 Bridges’ delivers satisfying acting and action

By Chris Plumery

Chadwick Boseman shows that he can play super heroes, and participate in serious films. The film “21 Bridges” was an exciting and fast-paced story that throws the viewer into many extreme situations.  Boseman played police officer Andre Davis, a man who lost his father in the line of duty as a boy.

“21 Bridges” is set in New York as the audience follows NYPD detectives in a citywide manhunt for two military-trained cop killers. Boseman showed in “21 Bridges” that he could play a police officer as good as any real officer. 

The movie conflict rises with two criminals Michael, played by Stephan James, and Ray, played by Taylor Kitsch, who have been hired to steal 30 kilograms of cocaine for a drug dealer. Shockingly enough, they arrive and find 300 kilograms, and police quickly arrive and surround them.

Michael and Ray kill a few cops and more police come on the scene which starts a massive manhunt for the pair who will be labeled by officers later as “cop killers” as a justifiable reason to shoot first.

Boseman showed pure confidence as a cop on screen and seemed to display the message that it’s not too late to be a better police officer to officers everywhere. After his father died, Davis takes it upon himself to have a “shoot first” mentality while trying to apprehend three criminals who turned on him so he would not end up like his father. 

This would later get him into some trouble by having an internal affairs investigation to his name for shooting eight people in nine years. 

The film does a fine job at giving the audience insight into Michael and Ray as they both possess military training, implying that there will be some exciting action scenes to come which the film delivered. A lot of the scenes were shootouts instead of fist fights, but there was no disappointment.

In one scene, Andre is chasing Ray up the stairs of an apartment where Ray hides behind a door. A telephone rings faster with each step Andre makes up the stairs and they both shoot — Ray hitting a civilian walking out of his apartment and Andre shooting Ray in the chest.

Police officers of precinct 85 are part of a drug movement who were partaking in the 300 kilograms of coke themselves. Captain McKenna, played by J.K. Simmons, puts Andre in charge, knowing he tends to be a shoot first guy, but this is where the message comes in for fellow cops. Andre starts to have a change of heart and in order to right his wrongs, he pursues the truth and decides to not put any unnecessary blood on his hands.

This leads into an interesting situation where his commitment is pushed to the test. His partner, a woman named Frankie, played by Sienna Miller, is held hostage by Michael. Andre won’t shoot even as Frankie practically begs him to shoot Michael.  

One of the film’s strengths was its core message of the kind of officers they chose to be. Corrupt cops shooting criminals who seemed to kill first was the major premise, but it’s more of a point to be made than anything. How the officers respond differently to these situations than Andre is made very clear in the film as a majority of the cops always go for the kill instead of negotiation.  

A weakness in the film is the story. The plot is very much character driven, leaving it to be fast paced and at times confusing. There was so much action and a lack of flushing things out that it made it nearly impossible to truly care about the characters.

The film has its ups and downs, but overall it was an enjoyable watch with guidelines for officers to attempt to follow for the future.