out of Five
Running time: 102
Enjoyable thriller with a complex script, strong performances and solid direction from Richard Donner.
What’s it all about?
Bruce Willis stars as pasty-faced middle-aged detective Jack Mosley, who still has all of his hair, but sports a paunch William Shatner would be proud of. Just as he’s coming off a long nightshift he’s asked to escort a prisoner named Eddie (Mos Def) to a courthouse, where he’s due to testify against some dirty cops.
There are very few trustworthy thriller directors in Hollywood but Richard Lethal Weapon
Donner is unquestionably one of them. As a result, the action sequences are exciting and smartly handled, whilst still leaving plenty of room for character development. In addition, the plot unfolds almost in real time, which, as any fan of TV’s 24 will tell you, creates an extremely tense atmosphere.
The performances are extremely good, although Mos Def’s lisping, motor-mouthed performance takes a lot of getting used to. Clearly, Donner intended the audience to be as irritated by him as Mosley is for the first half, although he gradually wins us (and Mosley) over. As for Willis, he’s playing an ordinary character for once.
There are a couple of improbable plot twists and coincidences but they never threaten to derail the film. That said, there’s a sequence set on board a bus that doesn’t work as well as it should. Ironically, it slows things down just as they should be speeding up.
In short, 16 Blocks can happily sit alongside Inside Man as an example of a well-made, superbly-acted, intelligent thriller. More of these, please. Worth seeing.