Burnt-out, world weary and hard drinking New York detective Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis), is assigned the last minute task of transporting fast talking convict Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) from jail to the court house 16 blocks across the city, where a jury is waiting to hear him testify against several police officers - Mosley's colleagues, who all want him dead. While Mosley's old friend and colleague Frank Nugent (David Morse) leads the chase to kill Bunker, helped by his team of endangered cops desperate to avoid losing their careers, Mosley must choose between loyalty to his colleagues and protecting the witness, in a wild and evermore dangerous chase through crowded New York.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Richard Donner (Superman, Lethal Weapon/s) is a respected old pro who knows how to make an action movie that delivers thrills and maybe something to chew on as well. With 16 Blocks, he has the armour for a beefy and yet offbeat action, in which Mos Def plays the slightly wacky character (think a hip, black machine gun mouth Mel Gibson) whose life hangs by a thread - and Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) holds the thread in his shaky, fumbling, drink stained hands.
Apart from the distraction of the obviously fake paunch he wears, Bruce Willis delivers a painfully mortal, flawed and guilt-ridden New York cop whose sense of duty gets a wake up call when his colleagues try to murder his prisoner in cold blood. His moustache somehow signals his downfall, as he cuts a pathetic figure trying to uphold the law against all the odds, perhaps for a shot at redemption. But he's smart: and that's what saves his and Bunker's life. The question we are asked in the film, if it matters to us, is where we draw the moral line in what's going on among cops who feel they're doing their job for society, even when they cross the line. Sadly we are also given the answer in an all too simplistic and shallow fashion, but that's only to be expected. Can't have any doubts linger in the mind of the audience...
As you'd also expect, there are some big stretches to credibility, but this is an escapist movie which does its job for anyone looking to join the chase. It's a chase in the street, in the cars, in a bus, in a building (or three) and even in the courthouse. The chase is relentless as are the cops chasing and the one being chased. Mos Def gets a bit annoying with his endless patter, but I think that's intentional, while the reliance on a hand held camera to convey action gets tedious - and that's not intended.
Donner keeps the pace brisk, the action edgy and the characters engaging enough to satisfy his target audience.
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16 BLOCKS (M)
CAST: Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse, Jenna Stern, Casey Sander
PRODUCER: Randall Emmett, Avi Lerner, Arnold Rifkin, John Thompson, Jim Van Wyck, Bruce Willis
DIRECTOR: Richard Donner
SCRIPT: Richard Wenk
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Glen MacPherson
EDITOR: Steve Mirkovich
MUSIC: Klaus Badelt
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Arvinder Grewal
RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Sony Pictures
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 20, 2006
VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Sony
VIDEO RELEASE: December 20, 2006