Monday, March 20, 2006

16 Blocks is a movie that is enjoyable to a point. It shares several similarities with both The Gauntlet and Midnight Run, but never really achieves either the violent excitement of the former or the superb scripting and characterizations of the latter. What it gives us is a mediocre chase movie with a few things to recommend and a lot to disparage. Willis plays a washed up, alcoholic detective presented with a last second assignment to transport a witness to a grand jury trial. The witness in question, played by Mos Def, is set to testify against several crooked cops who have made arrangements to make sure he never makes that testimony. Willis’s character is given the assignment because the cop entrusted with Def’s transport is held up and won’t make it in time, and because Willis is an apathetic drunk who’s screw up won’t raise a single eyebrow. True to form, Willis stops on the way at a liquor store and the action begins as he stops the would-be assassins and flees with Def. I won’t give out any spoilers even though most of the “surprises” are predictable, but the rest of the movie concerns the conspiracy of crooked cops as they attempt to spin the events and hunt both Willis and Def down, while our heroes bond in a trite, buddy movie kind of way as they make their way to the courthouse.

The weakest link in the movie is Mos Def, yet another rapper turned actor unable to understand that acting means more than reading lines and, in this case, showing character depth with a ridiculous and annoying nasal whine of a voice. Good actors can make you understand their characters without the use of visual or auditory clues while bad actors dye their hair or use a fake voice. Mos Def is one of them. Throughout the movie there was an audible groan every time he opened his mouth and it subtracted from the whole movie. Def aside, the rest of the movie isn’t that bad, even if it is formulaic with a suitably cheesy ending. Willis, always a solid lead, does his best with the material and creates a reasonably pathetic and depressing tarnished cop, while Donner gives us a few exciting action sequences to keep the pace flowing. Overall it was fair, but I wouldn’t see it again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked it.

11:26 AM  

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