21 Bridges (2019)
Directed by Brian Kirk
Starring Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, J.K. Simmons and Stephan James
Can Chadwick Boseman carry a film as the lead? Yes! Black Panther, Thurgood Marshall and Jackie Robinson proved that. But without a historical figure or comic book icon, does Boseman have what it takes? In the case of Brian Kirk’s 21 Bridges, unfortunately not.
Initially, 21 Bridges seems to have everything a crime drama needs: an interesting and recognizable location, a well written and believable script, and a supporting cast that plays well off the lead character. As the story unfolds, however, we are forced to deal with the film’s biggest shortcoming: the leading role, which Bozeman plays as if he’s a character from decades past rather than modern-day New York City. This may be the fault of screenwriter, but after the second act begins, the film suffers from Boseman’s overly earnest portrayal of our lead detective.
Understanding that we want to root for a hero and not an anti-hero is a novel approach in 2020, but I feel the role would have been more convincing with another, more intrinsically weird actor, such as LaKeith Stanfield or Sterling K. Brown. The supporting staff does well, led by the always competent J.K. Simmons and both Sienna Miller and Stephan James are great in their limited screen time.
From the intense, on-location scenes to the smart script that helps us feel paranoid before we know why we should be, 21 Bridges should have been a vehicle to propel Boseman to greater stardom. It wasn’t, but that doesn’t mean we cant all look forward to Black Panther 2.
If Black Panther and 41 were both A’s, and Marshall was a B, then 21 Bridges is a C.