16 Blocks

A burnt out cop with a bad limp and a taste for the bottle has just finished his shift and is looking forward to heading home for some rest. Sadly for Detective Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis), his day is about to get much longer than he expected.

On his way out of the precinct, his Lieutenant tasks him to escort a prisoner named Eddie Bunker (Mos Def), 16 blocks in 90 minutes so he can testify before a jury. Since the jury will disband in 90 minutes, it is vital that Eddie appear before them or else months of work in a prime case will be lost.

Jack is less than thrilled to be stuck with Eddie as his high voice and rapid fire style of speech really annoy Jack, who decides to take a detour from the non stop rants of Eddie to purchase a bottle of alcohol so he can drown his sorrows.

No sooner does Jack complete his purchase at a favorite store than an attempt is made on Eddie by armed men forcing Jack and Eddie to flee on foot and take refuge in a local bar where they are soon met by detective Frank Nugent (David Morse), who said he was in the area and responded to Jack’s call for assistance.

Frank informs his former partner Jack that he is escorting a snitch who is about to give evidence that will implicate many cops who were simply doing business. Frank suggests that Jack head home and rest while he cleans up the problem by taking charge of Eddie.

When Jack learns that Frank and his associates intend to kill Eddie to keep him from testifying, Jack decides to defend Eddie and the two of them begin a deadly race against the clock as they attempt to not only get Eddie to the courthouse in time, but to simply stay alive against a cadre of corrupt cops.

Since he went up against fellow cops, Jack is reported as a rogue who turned on fellow officers, which leaves him with nowhere to turn and without backup as he attempt to stay one step ahead of the relentless Frank and his associates as they venture from one city block to another in order to stay alive. Along the way, the two men bond, and Jack begins to learn that what Eddie knows will get them all killed and that in a city the size of New York, there are precious few places to hide, when people are determined to find you.

The solid pacing of the film and the quality work by Morse, Willis, and Mos Def keeps 16 Blocks an entertaining and engaging film. The chemistry amongst the leads draws you in more than most typical action dramas do, as you find yourself caring about the two individuals and want them to succeed.

Director Richard Donner has dialed down his usual explosions but has not sacrificed the action as it is always appropriate to the story and never seems tacked on. The film does loose some steam towards the end but does ultimately arrive at a conclusion that makes the trip worthwhile.

The film does borrow in parts from the classic Clint Eastwood film “The Gauntlet”. Even down to the heroes taking refuge in a city bus and attempted to evade the police in the bus amidst an armada of armed officers who are looking to shoot first and ask questions later.

If you are a fan of Willis or Mos Def and like action dramas, then 16 Blocks is a trip well worth taking.

4 stars out of 5