16 Blocks - Doesn't Quite Go the Distance
| 16 Blocks is good for what it is; a gimmick action flick that doesn’t require much thinking from its audience. However, there are too few “oh, come on” moments to really ever buy into what’s going on. Still, for some mindless entertainment, 16 Blocks delivers. Feel free to enjoy 16 Blocks without having to deal with a difficult plot or ever really doubting that everything will work out in the end.
Bruce Willis plays a cop who is transporting a prisoner only to discover that the prisoner, played my Mos Def, will testify against a group of corrupt cops who are willing to do whatever it takes to shut him up. Therefore the movie follows their quest to get 16 blocks across town.
As you can imagine from a gimmick like this, the film has to take a great deal of liberties with our disbelief. There are only so many things that can slow them down before we get a little tired of tricks, and there are plenty of tricks.
Donner, who has had ups (Superman: the Movie, Scrooged) and quite a few downs (Timeline, Conspiracy Theory) plays many games. Most often it involves a bait and switch so we think our heroes are in one place about to be captured but just at the important moment we see they are cleverly somewhere else and are safe. He uses this trick at least once too often for it to be believable.
One of the upsides of the film is Mos Def who has proven he can play anything from his torturing, unforgiving cop in The Woodsman to his alien sidekick in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Here he creates a fun character who would have easily been a caricature in the hands of a lesser actor. Def gives him a soul behind the silly voice.
Bruce Willis, on the other hand, phones this one in. Is he just acting like a burnt out, tired old cop or is he a burnt out, tired old actor?
As I said, 16 Blocks is no great shakes but if you go in expecting a mediocre film you will be satisfied with what you get.