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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that 21 Bridges is a drama starring Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther) as a New York City detective who's on the trail of cop killers. Expect lots of violence, including guns and shooting, many deaths, someone getting shot through the eye (blood and gore shown), blood spurts, beatings with blunt objects, car crashes, and a young boy enduring his father's funeral. Language is also very strong, with many uses of "f--k" and "s--t." Cocaine is part of the plot: 300 kilograms are shown, and criminals try to move 50 kilograms of it (one of them tests it for quality). There are references to AA and to prescription medications, as well as background smoking and brief, mild sexual innuendo. Despite some weak parts, the movie has a brisk, vigorous middle section, and it's passable enough entertainment for mature viewers.
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What's the story?
In 21 BRIDGES, criminals Ray (Taylor Kitsch) and Michael (Stephan James) show up for a job: stealing 30 kilos of cocaine. But when they get there, they find 300 kilos instead. They're also interrupted by a quartet of cops. Ray shoots eight police officers in all, and the pair escapes. Police detective Andre Davis (Chadwick Boseman), who has a history of shooting perpetrators, is called in to find the two cop killers. Paired with narcotics detective Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller), Andre orders the city of Manhattan closed off, giving him only four hours to find them. He and Frankie follow their noses and piece together the clues, but as they get closer, Andre learns that something isn't quite right inside the police force.
Is it any good?
This New York City cop action drama has a bit of a stiff start and a somewhat silly ending, but in between, it's a brisk, no-frills entertainment, thanks mainly to Boseman's star charisma. 21 Bridges begins with an attempt to explain young Andre's motivations, which isn't really followed up -- or really needed. Then there's an awkwardly written scene of grown-up Andre being interrogated by Internal Affairs. But after that, things get going very quickly, and director Brian Kirk -- a TV veteran (Game of Thrones, Penny Dreadful, etc.) making his feature debut -- keeps the ball rolling.
For most of the movie, the action is fairly clean, interactions are brief, and Kirk makes excellent, colorful use of Manhattan, from villains' lairs to the underbellies of restaurants and hotels. Boseman is well paired with Miller, who's tough and relentless while looking a bit shabby and ratty; she certainly isn't defined by her looks or gender. The two cop killers, likewise, are more than just sneering bad guys. They have a history and a shorthand, and they're smart and scared. It's all pretty good until the final showdown, which does have one or two interesting themes but then throws it all away on a rush job. Still, Boseman is commanding from start to finish, and 21 Bridges is a passable enough entertainment for fans of the genre.
Talk to your kids about ...
What's the argument for being a crooked cop and taking a little extra to make life easier? What's the argument against that? Which side does the movie seem to fall on?
- In theaters: November 22, 2019
- On DVD or streaming: February 18, 2020
- Cast: Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, J.K. Simmons
- Director: Brian Kirk
- Studio: STX Entertainment
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Character strengths: Integrity
- Run time: 99 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: violence and language throughout
- Last updated: April 30, 2020
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