Tuesday, August 01, 2006

16 Blocks

After work I went and saw 16 Blocks. Bruce Willis plays broken down alcoholic detective Jack Mosley who after pulling an all-night shift and just wants to go home and get drunk (or drunker) and pass out, his chief hands him some papers and tells him he's gotta go pick up a witness from another police station and drive him to testify at court sixteen blocks away. Sounds easy, but if it was easy we wouldn't be there watching it. Well, the dude he has to take to court is Eddie Bunker, played by Mos Def. Eddie is a motormouth - he won't stop talking, but he's likeable so that's OK. At least I found him likeable. Jack just wanted him to shut up because his head hurts.
They soon find out that the trip to the courthouse isn't going to be easy when people start trying to kill Eddie. He's off to testify in a case which will remove a bunch of dirty cops from the streets. These dirty cops intend to make sure he doesn't get there. The bad cops are headed by Frank Nugent (David Morse). On the way, Frank corners the pair in a bar and tries to get Jack to hand over Eddie and go home with his bottle, being all buddy-buddy (they are ex-partners). Jack does the right thing and says fuck you and they get out of there in the middle of a big Mexican standoff.
The movie is a redemption tale, where Jack has a chance to make amends for a failed personal and professional life, and Eddie has a chance to quit a life of petty crime and move to Seattle to start a bakery with his long-lost sister (he was a foster kid). This kind of stuff is often done in a heavy-handed, clumsy and sacharine way, but not here. We genuinely care what happens to these characters, and want them to get out of this mess alive so they can get on with a better life.
16 Blocks also has an 'old school' cop show feel about it, which I really appreciated. It's unsurprising considering that director Richard Donner worked on shows like The Streets of San Francisco and Kojak, not to mention the Lethal Weapon movies, so it's fun to follow the developing relationship between the white guy and black guy here.
Bruce Willis never looked so beat down and ragged as he does here. He's a wreck. A man staggering, red-eyed and hopeless at the edge of the pit. Great stuff.
Mos Def was excellent as the Flavor Flav-like motormouth. What a funny voice! I couldn't help wondering if that was how his natural voice sounded - could it be?
Well, I really enjoyed this movie, and so did the Asian kids sitting in the row behind me. I want to include what they yelled at the end: a cheering sentiment that gave me a big grin, but it would constitute a spoiler, so I had better not.

Note: If I'm not mistaken, this movie seems to follow 'real time', since at the beginning of the movie the time is around 8:30am and Jack has to get Eddie to the courthouse by 10:00am, and the movie is around an hour and a half long.

Postscript: I just checked IMDB for Mos Def and it says he is in another 2006 movie Journey To The End of the Night. What! Has a movie really been made of this excellent novel?!

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