A HESITANT THUMBS UP FILM REVIEW RATING!
Resting heavily on the shoulders of THE GAUNTLET (Clint Eastwood, 1977), 16 BLOCKS gives us a standard Bruce Willis action film and does so admirably. Not overly so, but a positive nod is deserved.
Jack Mosley (Willis) is an old, alcoholic cop who’s always done "the right thing" for his department. And now he’s assigned to take a fast-talking thug named Eddie (rapper Mos Def) just 16 blocks for a court appearance. Trouble is, though, Eddie is scheduled to testify against some crooked cops who live and breath right in Jack’s backyard. Jack is unaware of this and soon discovers he’s got much more than just a simple escort job on his hands. People (cops mainly) are trying to kill Eddie. Jack quickly has to make a decision: protect Eddie and "do the right moral thing," or let his fellow brethren have their way with him and "do the right thing for the department."
Willis plays the aging cop well. He grumbles and drinks and generally hates what he does. The dirty New York offices and streets were shot well and gave an overall sense of the uncleanliness of Jack’s life (including his past, which comes up toward the end of the film).
Mos Def plays the irritating convict and his grating voice bugged the crap out of me. He sounded very nasal and whiney but, in contrast, this added a strange upbeat quality to a film that could’ve gotten too dark.
I also like the fact that Willis isn’t trying to play the "young stud" anymore on film. He’s getting older and I’m happy to see him in roles befitting his age.
The alternate endings on the DVD are worth watching, too. Personally, I would’ve gone with an alternate ending rather than the one seen in theaters. But maybe that’s just me...