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'21 Bridges' review: So-so NYC crime thriller

Chadwick Boseman stars in " 21 Bridges."

Chadwick Boseman stars in " 21 Bridges."  Credit: STXfilms/Matt Kennedy

PLOT An NYPD detective closes all exits from Manhattan to track down two co -killers.

CAST Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, J.K. Simmons

RATED R (strong violence)


BOTTOM LINE A so-so New York City crime thriller, disappointingly filmed in Philadelphia.

A little after midnight on an unspecified date, two men steal a stash of cocaine from a Brooklyn restaurant, setting off a bloody chain of events in Brian Kirk's "21 Bridges." The robbery goes south, cops end up dead and the killers hightail it into Manhattan. Enter NYPD Detective Andre Davis, who comes up with a plan: Seal off every escape route on the island.

"21 Bridges" has a lot going for it: A pressure-cooker premise, cat-and-mouse action, the iconic streets of New York City. Would you settle instead for a moderately-paced crime drama shot in nondescript Philadelphia? If you can lower your standards that far, "21 Bridges" will serve you well enough as 90 minutes of entertainment.

The movie's big selling point is Chadwick Boseman, the star of "Black Panther," trading his vibranium bodysuit for a badge and a wool overcoat as Davis. (Joe and Anthony Russo, who directed Boseman in the last two "Avengers" films, are among the producers here.) Boseman turns in a solid if unspectacular performance as a man with a traumatic childhood — he's the son of a murdered cop— and a reputation for an itchy finger. That makes him the right man for the job, according to Captain McKenna (J.K. Simmons), a rough-justice type who'd rather skip all those pesky trials.

As Davis scours the city with his new partner, Narcotics Detective Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller), he gets the feeling every cop in the fictional 85th Precinct wants the two killers dead. Is it just the usual Blue Wall of Solidarity, or something more sinister? Meanwhile, the wanted men (Taylor Kitsch as ruthless Ray and Stephan James as conscience-stricken Michael), realize they're in way over their heads. The serviceable script is by Matthew Michael Carnahan, of "World War Z," and Adam Mervis.

Kirk, an Irish director whose credits include HBO's "Game of Thrones," keeps the action moving at a decent clip. Overall, though, the movie is as generic as its ersatz New York backdrop. A note of authenticity comes when Simmons' McKenna ridicules an unnamed Mayor Bill De Blasio as the kind of guy who "eats pizza with a fork." It's a good line, but a bit rich coming from a Manhattan-based movie whose real locales are mostly limited to Grand Central Station and just a couple of the titular bridges. 

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