An aging cop is assigned the ordinary task of escorting a fast-talking witness from police custody to a courthouse. There are however forces at work trying to prevent them from making it.
Fully recovering from the wretched flop Timeline
, director Richard Donner brings seasoned skill to 16 Blocks
, a satisfying thriller boosted by intelligent plotting and the stellar pairing of Bruce Willis and Mos Def in quirky, well-written roles. Making the most of minimal dialogue, Willis plays Jack Mosley, a boozy, disillusioned New York City detective who reluctantly accepts an assignment to transport squeaky-voiced chatterbox Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to a grand jury hearing where he's scheduled to testify against a group of corrupt, drug-dealing cops. They've got two hours to travel 16 blocks, but the dirtiest cop (David Morse) is determined to kill Eddie before he can testify; what he doesn't know is that Jack senses something in Eddie's seemingly innocent, optimistic demeanor that he wants to protect. Working from a tight, twisting screenplay by Richard Wenk, Donner turns familiar material into an efficient potboiler that delivers tense urban action (like Donner's earlier Mel Gibson hit Conspiracy Theory
) while leaving plenty of room for Willis and especially Mos Def (in a critically acclaimed performance) to develop their flawed yet admirable characters. 16 Blocks
may be a standard-issue thriller in many respects, but as a showcase for its appealing cast, it quickly rises above its generic limitations. --Jeff Shannon