21 Bridges Parent Guide
There are no redeeming features to this piece of bland and gritty cop-aganda.
Parent Movie Review
Andre Davis’ (Chadwick Boseman) father was an officer with the NYPD until he was brutally murdered while on duty. Inspired by his father’s service, Andre chose to become a detective. But he has acquired a reputation as a cop who shoots first and asks questions later, which comes back to haunt him when he is assigned to chase two cop-killers in Manhattan. Forced to choose between his blind belief in the NYPD and what he suspects is really going on, Andre will have to dig deep into his own perceptions and the lives of his fellow officers.
It’s never a good sign when I get home from the theatre, sit down to write my review, and have to double check the characters’ names on Wikipedia. That tells you one of two things: either the movie was so boring I couldn’t possibly keep track of anyone, or the screenwriters didn’t care enough to develop any distinctive characters. 21 Bridges manages to do both, and all in 100 minutes.
What you get here is an hour and a half of by-the-numbers cop thriller with plenty of unjustified shootings and police corruption thrown in at no extra cost. Not that the film wants to seriously analyze either of those problems. It would prefer to imply that they have both been resolved by Detective Andre Davis, Hero Cop of the Century, who somehow manages by sheer willpower and the exposure of a few corrupt officers to rid every police department in the world of every dirty cop. Seems stupid to me, too. Oversimplifying complex issues seldom makes for engaging cinema.
In the pursuit of journalistic balance, I’m trying to come up with something positive to say about this movie, but I’ve got to go pretty far down my list before anything turns up. The score is surprisingly decent, with a lot of big ominous brass accompanying the massive police presence in downtown New York - but almost everything but those four minutes of music is blandly forgettable. The dialogue is straight out of a can. If a thousand monkeys on a thousand typewriters will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare, this took two slugs on a Commodore 64 about twenty minutes to churn out.
The violence and profanity in the film, while accurate to the subject matter, are hardly appealing. Unless you’re into watching people graphically die of gunshot wounds, in which case, grab your popcorn and please sit further away from me. The profanity does get to be a lot - by my (admittedly dubious) math, we average one “f-bomb” every 1.1 minutes or so.
Another bad sign is my shock at finding out just how short this movie is, since sitting through it felt about an hour longer than the runtime indicates. There are no redeeming features to this bland and gritty piece of cop-oganda. If you’ve been coerced into seeing it, just lock your keys in the car and spend the hour and a half retrieving them (or more likely, waiting for the AMA to come get them for you). You’ll have ten minutes left to spend appreciating your luck at not being in the theatre for this cinematic train wreck.Directed by Brian Kirk. Starring Chadwick Boseman, Sienna Miller, and JK Simmons. Running time: 99 minutes. Theatrical release November 22, 2019. Updated February 20, 2020
Watch the trailer for 21 Bridges
Rating & Content Info
Why is 21 Bridges rated R? 21 Bridges is rated R by the MPAA for violence and language throughout.
Violence: By my count, 17 people are shot and killed throughout the film, some of whom are unarmed. Graphic incidents include an individual being shot through the eye, an individual having two fingers shot off, and an individual slowly choking to death on their own blood after being shot in the throat. Several people are beaten and knocked unconscious.
Sexual Content: There is one brief non-graphic sexual reference.
Profanity: There are 91 uses of extreme profanity, 21 scatalogical terms, and perhaps two dozen uses of other profanities.
Alcohol / Drug Use: People are seen consuming alcohol to cope with stress. Some background characters are shown with drinks in a bar. Individuals are shown carrying and testing huge amounts of cocaine, although no one is shown snorting any.
Page last updated February 20, 2020
21 Bridges Parents' Guide
Police are, as Andre says, the “sharp end” of the justice system, and that entails the use of deadly force. Do you think your jurisdiction has adequate judicial and civilian oversight over police use of force?
One of the news anchors describes the increased police presence in Manhattan as a military invasion- do you think that is accurate? Local police departments are increasingly purchasing surplus military hardware. Do you think that is justified in combating the levels of crime they face? Or should that kind of weaponry be restricted to more heavily regulated federal law enforcement agencies?