Image Courtesy of Amazon.com
Bruce Willis……….Jack Mosley
Mos Def……….Eddie Bunker
David Morse……….Frank Nugent
After seemingly giving up action movies to focus on more dramatic and comedic roles, Bruce Willis has made a nice resurgence back in the genre that made him an international star in the last two years. Making a big splash with Hostage last year, which garnered solid reviews to go with an equally solid box office gross, Willis has spent time back in the world of cops and crooks that made him famous. With an underrated performance in Sin City boosting his fortunes alongside praise for his role in Lucky Number Slevin, Willis is launching full force back in to a genre he helped transform from the “one man armies” of the 1980s. With a fourth installment of Die Hard to be released in 2007, Willis is getting ready for John McClane by going back full force into being an action star.
Willis stars in 16 Blocks as Jack Mosley. With a slight limp and a drinking problem, Mosley is the kind of guy who is counting the days until he can retire. His instincts dulled with alcohol, Mosley draws a relatively easy assignment on a rather ordinary day. He’s to transport Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to court so he can testify in a case. For Mosley it’s just another task to do, as his boss hands it to him as he’s trying to leave for the day. It should be ordinary, as the courthouse is only 16 blocks away from the police station, but Bunker is set to testify against some dirty cops. Mosley’s drinking problem kicks in early on, as he stops by a local liquor store en route to the courthouse in order to feed his addiction. As he walks outside, bottle of hard alcohol in a brown bag, his dulled instincts kick in as a pair of men are hassling his suspect. Gun drawn, Mosley leaves two dead bodies in his wake as their sinister intentions come out quickly. Retreating to a local bar with Bunker to sort the situation out, Mosley’s friend and fellow officer Frank Nugent (David Morse) tells Mosley that Bunker can’t testify against him and his fellow officers. Shooting his way out, Mosley and Bunker have one goal: make it to the court house. From there it’s an action thriller of astonishingly good quality as Willis keeps his hot streak going.
Willis’ performance as Mosley isn’t too different from McClane or any other of the characters he’s played in action films; while the limp sets him apart on a cursory level, the “alcoholic cop who overcomes his demons to save the day, thereby redeeming himself” is the sort of character that’s nearly second nature for the man. Combined with his gritty persona that goes in to all of his action roles, Mosley is the perfect type of character for Willis to play and he does it exceptionally well. It isn’t a role that is well-defined or excessively well-written (much like most of the film) but he’s established enough in that sort of role that his presence is enough to compensate for it. Willis also has shockingly good chemistry with Def; while Def has an irritatingly high voice that gets quite distracting at times, he has a good interplay with Willis on-screen. Both are confident enough in their characters to make up for the lack of strong writing.
Richard Donner, director of the Lethal Weapon franchise, has seen better material to work with in the past than 16 Blocks provides. He’s directed enough quality action films that even average material can be compensated for. His action sequences have a lot of grit to them and Donner keeps the pace moving quickly enough to keep the story’s pratfalls from catching up with the viewer. This is an action movie after all, so the plot is a bit thin and meanders from action sequences from time to time but Donner is more than capable of elevating the material.
Score : 8 / 10
Presented in a widescreen format with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the film’s transfer is great. This is a gritty film with lots of muted colors and they come through clearly.
Presented in a Dolby Digital 5.1 format, 16 Blocks sounds great.
Deleted scenes with commentary by Richard Donner and Richard Wenk are the usual sort of deleted scenes removed from the film. With Wenk (the film’s writer) and Donner providing the reasons why each scene was cut, some of the scenes were cut for time and some were cut because they made the film’s flow a little bit by making it a bit more personal. It’s nice to hear the depth of the reasoning from these two as they talk about the entire process in terms of editing and filming as well as scripting in terms of how they were able to change things up to make the film still work in terms of its story.
Alternate Ending is advertised heavily on the box and was the original ending for the film. The film’s theatrical ending was chosen to end up things in a much more positive way and give more empathy to the characters. It’s not completely shocking, and it does sum up things in nearly the same manner as the theatrical version does. Wenk and Donner introduce the clip and talk about why they chose the ending they did. There’s also a choice to watch the film with the original ending or this ending; it doesn’t enhance or detract from the film.
Score : 4 / 10