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Saturday, March 04, 2006

16 Blocks Movie Review

16 Blocks (Warner Bros.)
Starring Bruce Willis, Mos Def and David Morse
Directed by Richard Donner

16 Blocks is a character-driven cop movie that takes place in New York City. The premise is simple. Downtrodden cop Willis has to take career criminal Mos Def 16 blocks from a holding cell to a court so that he can testify on a bunch of dirty cops. Morse and a handful of cops are out to stop Mos Def from testifying and will do whatever they need to- to make sure he doesn't get before the grand jury.

Simple premise, simple delivery and complex characters with significant personal history and good chemistry combine to achieve what I feel to be a solid film. Some national reviewers dismissed the movie citing Mos Def's annoying, whining nasally voice or the fact that pretty much every scene in the film is cliche'. Well, his nasally voice didn't irritate me too much and I think it added some to his character's depth. As for the the cliche's. I dare you to name a truly original movie that's been released this year. Didn't think you could...

What 16 Blocks does succesfully achieve is a sylized, camera moves, interesting and thoughtful film. It is paced for an adult audience, and judging by the crowd at the theater I saw the film in (average age of 35) - that makes sense. Director Richard Donner who gave us Lethal Weapon series is now very grown up at 70 years of age. He's not making a movie for the MTV audience, this film is a buddy movie between two different characters from different backgrounds and not a movie about special effects or CGI. I'm glad that we finally have a film that relies more on characters, performance and emotion instead of fancy camera tricks and quick edits or huge explosions. In fact because of the lack of huge action sequences, the action we do see is more appreciated and the viewer isn't numbed by it all as is the tendency in most action films.

There is a sufficient arc in the film to demonstrate how each character grows and overcomes their warts and all - and the ending delivers a somewhat emotionally poignant feeling to merit a few claps from the audience as they emerge from screening the film.

Look for this film to do good business in subsequent weeks because of good word of mouth. If opening box office isn't above $15 million, I'd blame the slow-moving older target audience of the film and not Mos Def's fans. Ultimately this film will surpass the $65 million mark.

3 Stars


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