Time Out says
A charismatic Chadwick Boseman leaves Black Panther behind in this superior New York action-thriller.
“He is an avenger,” intones a priest at the beginning of Game of Thrones director Brian Kirk’s debut feature, 21 Bridges. It’s hard not to crack a smile at the in-joke: The film’s lead is Chadwick Boseman—a.k.a. Black Panther—and it’s the first post-Avengers project (as producers) for directors Anthony and Joe Russo.
While you’re waiting for someone to snap their fingers and make half the cast disappear, a heist gets bungled by two crooks. NYPD detective Andre Davis (Boseman) is leading a manhunt for the pair who gunned down eight cops. Boseman lends him a chivalrous quality, doggedly clinging to what’s right in a world that has gone wrong. It’s the kind of role Gary Cooper used to play, albeit in a dusty Western town rather than gritty New York.
Harkening back to cop thrillers like We Own the Night and Training Day (but better than both), 21 Bridges gets all the key elements right—high-stakes heists, breakneck car chases, and a plot that keeps you guessing—and its themes ring with political resonance. White cops fire on unarmed black men, and the plot touches on police brutality and systematic racism.
As Black Panther, Boseman is a hero in spandex; here he’s a hero with a badge and gun, who looks the devil in the eye, and stares down the evil in the system. It’s a smart way forward for an actor who has suddenly become extremely famous, yet wants to be perceived as more than just a cartoon. He’s got the chops to take us anywhere he wants.
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