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16 Blocks (DVD) (WS)
Bruce Willis stars as NYPD detective Jack Mosley, a cop assigned to drive petty criminal Eddie Bunker to testify. It should be a simple task. It should take 15 minutes. But a routine errand becomes a fight for survival that will change two men forever in 16 blocks.Out of shape, with a bad leg and a serious drinking problem, Jack (Willis--Sin City, The Sixth Sense) has a simple role on the force--clock in, clock out and stay out of trouble in between. When Jack shoves Eddie Bunker (Mos Def--Lackawanna Blues, Monster's Ball) into the back of his car, he doesn't notice the van looming behind them. Jack stops Eddie's execution, killing one assassin, but when Jack calls for backup, homicide detective Frank Nugent (David Morse--Hearts in Atlantis, The Green Mile) is the first to arrive at the scene. Eddie suddenly goes pale--one of the detectives on Nugent's team is the man against whom he is supposed to testify.]]>
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This story rings so true to real life you have to wonder if it had some true life elements in it.
People do change!
Thank you for doing the right thing!
You are a good man!
God bless you!
Bought it here at Amazon for six ninety nine
16 Blocks is a thinking man's action thriller. Even though, on the surface, it looks like a suspense film, a case could be made for it to be considered a character study picture. Amidst all the frenetic bullets and chase sequences, you'll find many moments of casual interaction, as leisurely enacted by Willis, Mos Def and even Morse. Willis and Mos Def, in their mismatched buddy roles, put in some character acting and have several scenes where they just have conversations (some on point, some non sequitur), in between the chases. Mos Def's motormouth character, in particular, spends an inordinate amount of time just riffing about suits and signs and bakeries.
Bruce Willis continues his recent trend (see Hostage) of portraying jaded, burnt-out cops who end up seizing one last shot at redemption. He excels in playing this type of role: tired, world-weary, kicked-around, maybe even a little corrupt, but, ultimately, someone not to be eff'd with and someone who can be depended upon to doggedly do the right thing (Bruce seriously needs to patent this character). Jack Mosley, as played by Willis, is laconic, paunchy, shuffling, stuck on the bottom rung career wise, and has a dire craving for alcohol. But the audience never doubts he'll man up when the chips are down.
I'm a fan of Mos Def, from way back when he was just a hip hop artist. Don't get me wrong, he was and is a great rapper. He flows and rhymes with insight and intelligence. And he's great as the host of HBO's Def Poetry. His natural, off-the-cuff style of acting is making folks sit up and pay attention (check out Brown Sugar, The Italian Job, and Something the Lord Made). With 16 Blocks, he comes out of left field with his jazzy interpretation of Eddie Bunker: verbose, optimistic and a bit quirky. The only negative in his portrayal is the grating fashion in which he channels the nasal voice of comedian Eddie Griffin. Other than that, Mos is solid.
David Morse is great as the main villain. He injects his Det. Frank Nugent, Jack's crooked current supervisor and ex-partner, with equal doses of complexity, cynicism, and immorality. Nugent's been around the block, knows the ropes and could care less about minimizing collateral damage. Yet, a part of Nugent still cares for his former partner Mosley and regrets having to put him down. But, in the end, he's gotta do what a dirty cop's gotta do.
Director Richard Donner gauges the tempo of this movie just right. Not too plodding, but not all out action, either. Oh, the action scenes are plentiful and charged with enough tension but they aren't break-neckedly constant. There is ample breathing room in between the pursuits, a pace which nicely suits Willis's middle-aged, gimpy-legged hero, as he actually gets a chance to take in oxygen, in between exchanging gunfire and platitudes.
The sparse Special Features consist of an alternate ending not seen in theaters, several deleted scenes with wiseacre commentary by Richard Donner and his screenwriter, and a theatrical trailer. A film commentary would've been nice.
16 Blocks is a well-meaning movie that is introspective and thoughtful, yet strives to give the fans their money's worth with its done-by-the-numbers shoot-em-up violence. There is a worthy message here trying to make itself heard, thru the voice of Eddie Bunker, that Pollyanna of a crook. The movie has a top-drawer star at the top of his game, who seems, in fact, to get better as he ages. And it's got Mos Def, who I firmly believe will be heard from for a lot of years to come. Three and a half stars and a solid recommendation.