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Overall Rating
3.43

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look44.44%
Average: 26.98%
Pretty Bad: 11.11%
Total Crap: 6.35%

6 reviews, 27 user ratings


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16 Blocks
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by Mel Valentin

"Better than it has any right to be. Seriously."
4 stars

Despite formulaic plot turns, a familiar premise, and a languid, by-the-numbers climax and denouement, Richard Donner's ("Conspiracy Theory," "Lethal Weapon 1-4," "Superman I-II," "The Omen") latest effort, "16 Blocks," proves to be a tightly directed, highly engaging, suspense- and tension-filled cop thriller/urban actioner, thanks in large part to Donnerís decision to film "16 Blocks" in a stripped down, unobtrusive old-school style (Steadicam use notwithstanding) in and around grungy, rundown locations (Toronto standing in for Manhattan). Plus, with Bruce Willis and Mos Def as a mismatched duo on the run from corrupt cops, entertaining diversions are sure to follow.

Jack Mosley (Willis), a paunchy, alcoholic cop with a bad leg, razor stubble, a wicked hangover, and an all-nighter behind him, is asked at the last minute to escort a petty criminal, Eddie Bunker (Def), to appear before a grand jury 16 blocks away at the courthouse. If Eddie isn't delivered to the courthouse by 10:00 a.m., the grand jury's tenure expires, forcing an assistant district attorney to dismiss the grand jury and presumably ruining her case. Jack's the taciturn type, a man of few words, shaky morals, and an even shakier grip on his sobriety, Eddie's the motor mouth, nervously filling the air with digressions and backtalk to cover his fears and anxieties.

On their way to the courthouse, Jack pulls over at a liquor store for breakfast. Jack intervenes just as a hitman is about to shoot Eddie. Fleeing to a local bar, Jack waits for backup. Jack's ex-partner, Frank Nugent (David Morse) and his team arrive moments later. Eddie recognizes one of Frank's men, and a Mexican standoff ensues. A tense, life-altering decision later, Jack and Eddie go on the run. Along the way to their eventual destination, one or two revelations surface, forcing Jack and Eddie to trust one other.

Story wise, 16 Blocks doesn't quite overcome the unmistakable whiff of predictability or familiarity. We've seen this premise (e.g., a faded, compromised character who finds redemption through self-sacrifice) and these character types (or rather, stereotypes) before and more than once. The screenwriter, Richard Wenk, clearly borrows the central premise from The Gauntlet, a 1977 Clint Eastwood action flick (not one of his best or most memorable). Both films center on a cop escorting a witness to appear before a grand jury or trial, with a host of adversaries arrayed against them at every (plot) turn. The Gauntlet ends with a spectacular smashup. 16 Blocks doesn't go that far, but it comes close (the pileup occurs well before the climax). 16 Blocks also drops the romantic subplot found in The Gauntlet, focusing instead on the relationship between the two men, each helping to save the other.

Performance wise, Bruce Willis throws off the more heroic, hypermasculine side of his anti-authoritarian, masochistic persona, for a more worn in, disheveled character on the downside of his life (with some help from his makeup person). As Willis has reached middle age, he's become a more interesting actor to watch (seriously), taking on smaller character roles (e.g., Nobodyís Fool) and more complex, shaded leading roles (e.g., Unbreakable, Twelve Monkeys). Mos Def brings his typically eccentric performance style and idiosyncratic line deliveries, channeling his inner Mike Tyson for his role as Eddie Bunker. Not surprisingly, Eddie has the all best lines and provides 16 Blocks with the humor necessary to balance the gunplay.

On the directing side, Richard Donner brings a familiar lack of pretension and restraint to an otherwise routine action/thriller. Over a career spanning six decades, Donner has proven himself a highly proficient, versatile, and generally unappreciated (at least by critics) genre filmmaker. Donner received his training in television, spending almost twenty years honing his craft before getting tapped in 1975 to adapt a bestselling supernatural thriller, "The Omen," for the screen. "The Omen" led to a string of other high-profile, big-budget films, including "Superman I-II", and, of course, the highly profitable "Lethal Weapon" series (Donner directed all four films). Donner may be approaching retirement (heís 76), but with "16 Blocks" he proves that the old school can still beat the new school at the filmmaking game.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=14077&reviewer=402
originally posted: 04/08/06 10:44:13
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell boring 2 me 1 stars
4/16/14 Charles Tatum Excellent pacing and some good performances. 4 stars
11/17/11 Golden J. Williams Jr. A real good thrill ride. Willis and Mos Def fit their characters. Must see both endings!! 5 stars
10/10/10 Dymphna Kahl Can see it over & over, always cry at last scene. Mos Def & Willis excellent. 5 stars
8/30/09 Ry entertaining throughout. very good! 4 stars
8/03/08 The Dork Knight Bruce is great as the burn-out cop. Nicely done 4 stars
6/16/08 PAUL SHORTT THERE'S A FINE LINE BETWEEN OLD FASHIONED AND CLICHED 1 stars
3/05/08 ladavies This wasn't half bad. I enjoyed Mos Def. 4 stars
9/11/07 Grayfoxx Not bad. Mos Def can actually act. Really worth watching this action flick. 4 stars
7/19/07 mr.mike got worse as it went along , and refused to end 2 stars
4/18/07 Stevo UK Died on its arse. Great for the geeks who'll watch anything, though. 1 stars
2/02/07 Jennifer I agree, Bruce did great as a burnt out cop, but come on-that story was total crap. Boring! 1 stars
10/27/06 MP Bartley Taut cat and mouse game. Willis, Mos Def and Morse all excellent. 4 stars
8/24/06 Pete Rogers Great portrayals, brilliant treatment of a kind of passion for redemption 5 stars
7/25/06 Indrid Cold Bruce is great as the burnt-out cop, but Mos Def's Dave Chappelle impersonation is annoying 3 stars
7/21/06 Mitchell K. Better than I expected 4 stars
7/18/06 Monday Morning A half-hour worth of story packed into 90 minutes! 3 stars
6/19/06 ES I liked it, I'll recommend it, but I don't have to like the way Mos Def talked in the film 4 stars
5/26/06 Jeff Anderson A great thrill ride with Willis & Def in top, first-rate form. WELCOME BACK RICHARD DONNER! 5 stars
5/18/06 chris f bruce willis may be getting old but he can still do great movies 5 stars
5/06/06 Jane Austen's Enema Best movie I've seen since MEAN GIRLS. Willis and Def should win Oscars. 5 stars
4/01/06 jcjs fun, no brainer, good acting, fine entertainment moves right along, just kick backed Bruce 4 stars
3/14/06 Donny Worth a rent. Bruce is great at these types of movies, even if they are mediocre. 3 stars
3/12/06 Josh Standlee Absolutely incredible! It's always fun to cheer for Bruce! 5 stars
3/11/06 Anthony Feor 16 blocks of non stop talking 3 stars
3/10/06 burton miller fast-paced, excellent dialog, mos def was the shit 4 stars
3/07/06 Elizabeth Quite formulaic and cliche, but Willis is always fun to watch. 3 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  03-Mar-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Jun-2006

UK
  12-May-2006

Australia
  20-Jul-2006


Directed by
  Richard Donner

Written by
  Richard Wenk

Cast
  Bruce Willis
  Mos Def
  David Morse
  Jenna Stern
  Casey Sander
  Cylk Cozart



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