16 Blocks


Reviewed by: David Stanners

16 Blocks
"The concept of 16 Blocks is nothing new... Unfortunately, the concept outweighs the result."

Bruce Willis, once a Hollywood A-list action man, has grown a dodgy moustache, cultivated character wrinkles and knocked back a good few beers to fill out his latest role as a bent New York cop on the run.

If Richard Donner had stuck to his day job as a producer, instead of perching precariously on the director's chair, 16 Blocks might have hit the target. Reminding me of Phone Booth, without the tension, Jack Mosley (Willis) is caught in a vicious circle. Overweight, nonchalant and in need of sleep, he's just finished a night shift and is commissioned to collect crime witness Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) from police custody and take him to a court hearing 16 blocks away.

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Fatigue becomes the least of Jack's worries, as his short routine trip begins to implode. We soon learn of a hatchet job planned by Mosley's crooked colleagues to pop a cap in Eddie's head before he is able to spill the beans in the courthouse about their unsavoury wheelings and dealings. From here, the chase is on.

Jack makes every effort to shield his fast-talking witness from the NYPD bad boys and make it to the courthouse in one piece. There are the usual car chases, standoffs, heists and bus sieges along the way, adding flare to the narrative's underlying sentimental moral fable, draped in the American flag. While Eddie is striving to put his hoodlum days behind him and make his dream of becoming a baker a reality, Jack also tries to clean up his act and the department racket he has become part of.

The concept of 16 Blocks is nothing new. Cop thrillers are a dime a dozen, as well as a proven working formula. Unfortunately, the concept outweighs the result. The biggest stumbling block is the lack of tension. Setting out in a blaze, the narrative unravels quickly, setting itself up beautifully for a fast paced, action packed romp, which soon sadly slips into the more prosaic side of formulaic Hollywood. The action sequences are good, but insufficient to rescue a rather lame match of cat-and-mouse between goodie and baddie. The twists and turns, while starting well, end up as straight and narrow, which is a shame because these are the lynchpins that can turn an average thriller into a memorable one.

As the spent NYPD veteran, Willis is fine. It is a shame, however, that his dogged dedication through major weight gain and obvious health loss prior to shooting, didn't pay off. Oh well, I'm sure he was well paid. Donner, on the other hand, may be better advised to sticking to manoeuvring budgets, rather than cameras, in future.

Reviewed on: 28 Apr 2006
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16 Blocks packshot
For a New York cop and his witness, the distance between life and death is 16 blocks long.
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Director: Richard Donner

Writer: Richard Wenk

Starring: Bruce Willis, Mos Def, David Morse, Jenna Stern, Casey Sander, Cylk Cozart, David Zayas, Robert Racki

Year: 2006

Runtime: 105 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: Germany/US


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