Man­hat­tan man­hunt in 21 Bridges

Evening Times - - TIME OUT -

OP­POR­TUNIS­TIC thieves are in the wrong place at the wrong time, spark­ing a night-time po­lice man­hunt through the streets of Man­hat­tan, in Brian Kirk’s propul­sive ac­tion thriller.

Screen­writ­ers Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael Car­na­han milk droplets of dra­matic ten­sion from their sim­ple and ef­fi­cient set-up, run­ning a stop­watch on the fre­netic gun fights and car chases from the mo­ment the lead in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer re­minds col­leagues: “If we don’t catch these guys in the next three to four hours, they van­ish.”

On-screen time checks cleanly con­vey the re­lent­less pas­sage of time from the first pull of a trig­ger to the ca­coph­ony of a bul­letrid­dled final reck­on­ing that poses un­com­fort­able ques­tions about the frac­tious re­la­tion­ship be­tween tax­pay­ers and the peo­ple en­trusted to pro­tect them.

Chad­wick Bose­man trades Black Pan­ther’s fig­ure-hug­ging Vi­bra­nium weave mesh suit for more sim­ple, func­tional at­tire as a morally in­cor­rupt­ible NYPD de­tec­tive, who has been raised to never shy away from do­ing the right thing and to al­ways “look the devil in the eye”.

He is of­ten the ful­crum of im­pec­ca­bly staged ac­tion se­quences in­clud­ing a breath­less pur­suit on foot through the Sub­way tran­sit sys­tem.

Michael (Stephan James) and his mil­i­tary-trained buddy Ray (Tay­lor Kitsch) re­ceive a tip-off that a swanky restau­rant in New York is a tem­po­rary hold for a 30kg ship­ment of co­caine.

The low-level crim­i­nals storm the premises af­ter hours and point au­to­matic weapons at a lone waiter, who even­tu­ally gives Michael and Ray a key to the down­stairs safe.

In­side, the shocked duo find a whop­ping 300kg of white pow­der.

A po­lice pa­trol ar­rives as the trig­ger-happy duo es­cape with con­sid­er­ably more than they came for.

Eight serv­ing of­fi­cers per­ish in a hail of bul­lets and Ray and Michael flee to Chi­na­town to off­load their stash via a high­class money laun­derer (Alexan­der Sid­dig)

Flash­ing blue and red lights of the NYPD flood the crime scene.

De­tec­tive An­dre Davis (Bose­man), son of a dec­o­rated cop who was killed in the line of duty, is as­signed to lead the man­hunt by Cap­tain McKenna (JK Sim­mons).

An­dre pro­poses a bold plan of ac­tion - the tem­po­rary clo­sure of all 21 bridges out of Man­hat­tan and a sus­pen­sion of train and sub­way ser­vices, trap­ping the killers on the is­land.

Flanked by ballsy nar­cotics di­vi­sion of­fi­cer Frankie Burns (Si­enna Miller), An­dre screeches into Chi­na­town to ap­pre­hend Ray and Michael, us­ing lethal force if nec­es­sary.

21 Bridges shoots to thrill on fa­mil­iar ter­ri­tory, em­bold­ened by Bose­man’s por­trayal of a stoic and softly spo­ken man of hon­our, who bran­dishes his badge as a sym­bol of right­eous au­thor­ity.

North­ern Ir­ish di­rec­tor Kirk is a will­ing ac­com­plice to ex­plo­sive skir­mishes be­neath the gleam­ing glass and metal of a cityscape that never sleeps.

With a sleek 99-minute run­ning time, there’s no time for us to slum­ber.

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