WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
When an old and broken down detective is given the simple assignment of taking a petty criminal 16 blocks from the stationhouse to the courthouse, he finds the task may not be so simple. Caught in a web of deceit, corruption, and gunfire, the two unlikely duo must race against time to make it in one piece.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
As of the moment this review is being written, there are about 20,000 scripts floating around Hollywood that are all police dramas. Cops, criminals, rigid moral codes, obstacles to overcome – we’ve seen these elements before, in many different guises. So there is only so much a filmmaker can do to really create an original piece of work in such a saturated market, but even then it’s not always enough. 16 BLOCKS is a classic example; even with two fine contenders in its already weary corner (namely Director Donner and star Willis) it just can’t seem to overcome the familiarity that the script has laid out for the audience. Writer Richard Wenk seems to think that his gimmick of the characters having to travel 16 blocks was more than enough to sustain an entire film – wrong. Plot holes, unbelievable bits, and glaring mistakes galore, Wenk’s script is a who’s who of every cop drama we’ve seen, wrapped in a seemingly creative cocoon of originality. But familiarity does breed contempt in this case and not even the solid direction by Donner can save this one from being anything but a re-hash of better films before it. No blame to the man Donner, as one guy can only do so much. (Loved that first gun sequence though!)
Even Willis, who does some very credible work that reminded me of the older character he played in the film IN COUNTRY, can’t do all the work by himself. The film has him surrounded by annoying and distracting characters like Mos Def (who was remarkable in THE WOODSMAN), whose verbal banter grew irritating after the first 30 seconds, and David Morse, who is playing the same damn character he’s been doing since 1996’s THE ROCK - he needs a different role. (Like the one he played in Sean Penn’s THE CROSSING GUARD and THE INDIAN RUNNER) Aren’t all these guys’ sick of doing the same trite ridden script’s over and over and over again? Anyway, advice to Willis and Donner - common guys, you’re way better than this material (see LETHAL WEAPON AND PULP FICTION respectively), invest in a script that doesn’t just recycle the same stuff we’ve already seen, but actually goes that extra 16 blocks to create something unique.
Deleted Scenes (with Commentary by Director Richard Donner and Writer Richard Wenk) (19:51): First off, let me tell the guys at Warner Bros., never ever show deleted scenes without the option of being able to turn the commentary on or off. The result here is an annoying barrage of scenes, most just extended, that we never get to see fully because the two talkers here keep interrupting. Not that the commentary is bad, it’s just nice to have the option. As for the audio track itself, it was a little uneven. I couldn’t tell when the two were joking or serious, as at one point, it looks like the two were facing off in a power struggle. (I wanted to scream out, “Don’t take that Donner, you directed Superman!”) The exchange is interesting at first, then just becomes obtrusive and annoying, not a good combo.
There is also an alternate ending here, which can be played with the whole film or just be viewed by itself. My pick – watch it with the film, as it’s a much better ending. (Albeit a dark one!) The original smells of the studio wanting a happy ending.
There is also an original Theatrical Trailer.
The teaming of powerhouses Bruce Willis and Director Richard Donner aren’t enough to overcome the formulaic and unoriginal script by writer Richard Wenk. This is the problem with the way Hollywood picks its scripts, always looking for the gimmick. 16 BLOCKS indeed – sorry to burst your bubble guys, two words does not a movie make.