The Sunday Mail
ROUGHLY four years ago, Chadwick Boseman re-introduced himself to the world via the moniker Black Panther in the movie “Captain America-Civil War”.
At the time, the movie was the nearest to perfection Marvel had ever gone. While it was just a cameo appearance, it was fan service at its best.
Black Panther and Spiderman (Peter Holland’s Peter Parker) introductions as well as the fight between Ironman (Robert Downey Jnr’s Tony Stark) and Captain America (Chris Evan’s Steve Rodgers) remain one of the top Marvel moments in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s 12-year history.
The “Black Panther” movie was released in 2018, with the film scoring both critical acclaim and box office success, thereby shooting Boseman to instant fame.
Admittedly, I was not one of the many that were instantly taken by the euphoria of “Black Panther”. I even wrote a scathing review on this column, much to the chagrin of some of our readers. My view, which I maintain to this day, is that the film was barely passable in the acting and CGI department.
Boseman was the main culprit, coming off as too stiff and lacking charisma.
But that was then.
Now it seems there is a glimmer of hope for the 42-year-old.
In “21 Bridges”, Boseman’s latest project stands out. He puts up a stellar performance and single-handedly carries the 136-minute cop thriller.
It is nowhere near perfect, but it does a lot to redeem the 42-year-old Hollywood heart-throb.
Boseman stars as Andre Davis, the son of a policeman who gets gunned on the job. Davis sets off on a mission to hunt down the cop killers.
One night, two small time criminals — former war veterans Michael Trujillo (Stephen James) and Ray Jackson (Taylor Kitsch) — take a job to ransack a winery and steal several kilogrammes of cocaine. The heist goes wrong when they realise that there is more cocaine than they were expecting (300kg instead of 30kg).
Police officers casually arrive at the scene.
The two shoot their way out, gunning down eight officers, and Davis is assigned to deal with the case. He is given until dawn to find and arrest the culprits, before federal agents take the case.
However, nothing is as it seems.
Assigned to work with a narcotics agent, Frankie Burns (Sienna Miller), the two lock down the island of Manhattan and go on a manhunt for the cop killers.
Boseman’s performance oozes charisma.
Miller and J.K Simmons (Captain Matt McKenna) play the supporting role well as the narcotics agent who seems more in awe of her partner than anything else.
Apart from Boseman, the two antagonists (Trujillo and Jackson) are by far two of the most well-written and well-rounded characters I have seen in the last 12 months.
The little history that is fleshed out during the movie helps us empathise with them, especially when holes start appearing in the shoot-out. The entire police force appears to be out for vengeance rather than justice.
The only misgivings I have with the film is that writers Adam Mervis and Matthew Michael do not really flesh out Davis’ history and the impact his father’s death had on his career. This played a huge part in marketing the film (which was awesome). Presenting him as more damaged and traumatised would have made his character more relatable.
Instead, Davis is more on the corky and arrogant side — remorseless about his kill rate of one kill per month — which is highlighted at the beginning of the movie.
The stunts, particularly the main shootout between the robbers and the policeman, are spectacular.
Hats off to James (Trujillo) for his outstanding performance.
The dynamics between Boseman and James reminded me of Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford in the “Fugutive” movie.
On one hand you have a hard-nosed policeman relentless in his pursuit of justice and capturing the bad guys. On the other hand is a resourceful “criminal”, whose case is not as cut out as it seems at the beginning.
Kudos to all those who were involved, “21 Bridges” is one the films I was looking forward to watching and it did not disappoint.