The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, March 05, 2006

16 Blocks (2006)

This buddy-cop action/redemption piece, directed by Richard "Lethal Weapon" Donner and starring Bruce Willis (as the world-weary cop) and Mos Def (as the small-time hood he is assigned to move from a police station "16 blocks" to a courthouse for grand jury testimony) is satisfying and well-made, but not wonderful.  Indeed, without the considerable skills of Mos Def, the jive-talking squeeky con character would have seemed like Chris Tucker redux, and close to offensive.  In his hands, the character works as a man of complex motivations and a vision for his future that exceeds his current circumstance.  But it is Bruce Willis who anchors the film, playing older than his actual age and creating a memorable, flawed, believable human being given one last chance to set his life straight.  The film, playing out almost in real time, deals with the attempts of half the NYPD to kill a witness (Def) who could testify against a gaggle of bad cops.  Willis, and the enjoyable bond that develops between these two very different men, are all that keep the con alive long enough for us to realize that there is more to both of them than their surface.  I liked it, and offer it a "B" for action fans.

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